FAIL!!! Oh, and I’ve just used too many exclamation marks…FAIL!

This did make me laugh. I tried to leave a reply to a lovely comment someone had made on my blog and instead what I got back, clear as day, in black and white was: Please try to say something useful.

Omg! What a put down. I was literally floored. I have 5 tween/teen/21 yr old girls and I know what it feels to be put down. Seriously, I do. If you do not have girls aged 10-21 years then you will not know what I mean. If you do, you will be nodding. They can cut you down with a look. They don’t even need to speak to you. Non-verbals are a teenage girls’ language. They rock those non-verbals like it’s party time!

I comment that they are wearing too much make-up for school. Cue: the look.

I comment that their skirt is too short. Cue: the look.

Oh, I’m sorry that I am unable to say anything useful at this time. But, tbh that’s simply your opinion and, as you felt my comment was too short, I can quite happily bore the crap out of you for the next hour on why I think your opinion sucks…on why you are wearing too much make-up, on why I feel that your skirt is too short.

Actually though, this is pretty much what my girls might say to me. Perhaps I was just being given a taste of my own medicine (eeuuckk!)

You know what, Mum. If you can’t say something useful in relation to me spending the night with my boyfriend when I’m only just 16, then ERROR!

I’m speechless. Floored. I’m where my girls want me most of the time, because that’s when they can walk right over me.

Oh Crap…

For the past three days, dog 1 has had the shits. I say, ‘days’, but this obviously includes nights and I’m bloody knackered. It’s like having babies all over again. Wtf…the kids are currently in 6 different locations, none of which are here, but still we get no peace to do anything remotely romantic, except pretend to be asleep when he needs letting out again at some ungodly hour. Talking of which, to all mums with young kids: what are your top tips for getting out of the middle of the night/very early morning wake-up call? Do you take it strictly in turns with your other half? Or, do you have a special duvet over the head technique you’d like to share with me? I need more sleep!

The shits cause huge problems on the morning dog walk too. You know the scenario: there are people walking behind you and your dog has a crap. You make a big thing of pulling out a nappy sack (I’d forgotten how awful the fragranced ones smell – every jacket pocket I own smells like a whore’s boudoir) and leaning over as if there’s an Oscar at stake, to pick up aforementioned poo. Tying the sack up with a flourish and a smug look.

The trouble is, when it’s the shits, there’s nothing to pick up. This happened to us twice yesterday. Dog 1 squatted exactly as if a perfectly formed turd was going to descend, but instead it was slop. There was a man walking behind us, so I gestured to partner to pretend to pick it up. He gave me a weird look and his performance wouldn’t have won an award, but he’d gone through the motion for the sake of our fellow dog walker. On straightening up, he looked at me as if to say: what the hell do you want me to do with this empty poo bag, so I diverted everyone’s attention by pointing out that dog 2 was weeing directly on dog 1’s head. With that, the bugger only went and squatted again. Partner shot me a look and handed me the nappy sack. Oh bloody hell. The fellow dog walker had now caught us up and I got a hot flush with the pressure of it all. Divert, divert, I was silently screaming to partner, who was just standing and watching me, arms folded.

Kids, dogs, they’re all the same. Well, dogs are a hell of a lot easier, of course, but they’re all high maintenance. The thing that I have come to value most about the dogs though, is that they can’t answer me back. In a house full of teenagers, this one factor goes a long, long way and for that reason alone, I shall do the midnight shit run with a huge smile on my face and not roll over and hide.

This post is dedicated to my friend’s dog, Monty. Who sadly died suddenly today. RIP Monty.


Accept Difference

To the lady in Waitrose this morning…

Please don’t judge me for looking at you. Mine were eyes of sympathy, amidst those of curiosity and others of condemnation.

You were leaving the cashier, as I was coming in. I couldn’t help but look, because your child’s screams filled the entire vacuous space of the shop.

To me, his screams of wanting cake were not the ordinary cries of a child having a tantrum, they were somehow more than that.

I could only see you through the tills and couldn’t easily reach you, or I’d have reached out and asked if I could help. By the time I had thought to do this, the screams, though they didn’t lessen for you, were disappearing out of the shop.

You looked so calm. Deep down you must have been in agony. It was as if time stood still for those moments as he screamed for that cake. But you had the look of someone who had dealt with this before. Someone who is able to block out the prying eyes and focus on what really matters. Him.

I could see, even from across the shop, that you understood why he was upset and because of this, it didn’t actually matter that people were staring in disbelief. Some embarrassed, looking nervously at other shoppers, trying to make sense of what they could hear. Some probably like me, wanting to ask if they could help, but not quite knowing how to.

You must have made it out of the shop and away from that difficult moment, because by the time I left there was only the usual noises of a supermarket car park filling the air.

I admire you. I admire your ability to cope so well under scrutiny. I don’t know whether you always cope so well. But even if this was your finest parenting achievement so far, you nailed it. You didn’t need our help today, but you have my thoughts.

Disability is not always visible. Your response is. Make a difference. Accept difference.

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Droning On

Daughter 1: Mum, will you pack for me – you don’t have to choose my clothes, just pack them?
Me: Why?
Her: Because you’re good at it.

No, I said.

So she packed, as well as tidied her room, painted her desk white, walked into town to get toiletries and get Turkish lira, did an hour’s Taekwon-Do training and cooked dinner for 6 of us. She’s off to Turkey today and I won’t see her for two weeks. So I spent the whole of yesterday feeling guilty. Guilty that I’d said no to packing her suitcase. Guilty for not remembering that she needed foreign money. Guilty for moaning at her about painting her desk and guilty about having asked her to cook dinner. Was she stressed and anxious about any of this? No. She was happy and excited about her holiday and by doing all those things she felt independent and secure. I did the right thing – I think – but I spent the whole day questioning myself.

You see, as I talked about in my blog: Bonsai Parenting, we are doing far too much ‘helicopter parenting’, where we hover over our children like an irritating mosquito, swooping in if our child needs rescuing. Keeping a close eye on proceedings, ready to throw the rope down for them to grab hold of and get taken back to the safety of the home at the slightest whiff of potential conflict or danger.

However, I would even take it a step further in my analogy of how we’re bringing up our kids. Modern parenting is more like drone parenting: even more intrusive, with its ability to get in closer and to gather the necessary information required to control our children.

‘Drones provide troops parents with a 24-hour “eye in the sky”, seven days a week. Each aircraft can stay aloft for up to 17 hours at a time, loitering over an area and sending back real-time imagery of activities on the ground. Although drones are unmanned, they are not unpiloted – trained crew parents at base steer the craft, analyse the images which the cameras send back and act on what they see.’

Information from teachers, tutors and sports coaches, to name but three. Parents are incessantly requiring feedback on their offspring, to use to remain firmly involved at every decision making process. Drones can spy, and as parents we are encouraged to spy on our kids: check their internet activity, read their texts, always be on the lookout for clues to them entering the dark side, from where we will immediately rescue them.

We’ll rescue them by droning on to teachers when our child is even slightly struggling. Droning on at the side of the pitch, telling a child how to play a game that the parent probably knows little about. This isn’t just words of support, this is telling them what to do and even worse, telling them what they should have done. This is apparently one of the main reasons kids, particularly girls give up sport in their droves as they approach the teenage years – they are embarrassed and made to feel even more self conscious by well meaning drones.

Drones, unlike helicopters, can swoop right in. They are on the PTA, on the school trips, on the school reading rota, they are constantly at school. Then the next thing they know they are traipsing around university open days where frustrated deans are prising their child away from them and telling them to go and do something else for a couple of hours. They are writing the personal statement, sorting out their child’s work experience and attending their interviews with them.

Drones are doing everything they can to prevent risk: risk of injury, risk of failure and risk of boredom. But this well meaning drone parenting is creating children who are more likely to develop low self-worth, who are stressed and anxious and who are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, such as binge drinking.

I’m not the parent who drones on at the side of the pitch – I leave that to the coaches. Nor am I the parent drone, hovering in the school. But I am a drone. I’ve realised that I have spent the past few months asking one of my daughters if she is ok. She became a little more withdrawn than usual and I worried. I worried that she had lost her spark and so I asked her: what’s wrong? Nothing, came her reply. But I asked again and over the months again and again: are you sure?  No wonder she withdrew. She’s doing well at school, she has good friends, but I still worried too much. When parents drone on, anxiously asking: are you ok? they can make the child anxious because they sense that we’re worried and, of course, it can make them pull away. I am over-analysing, when I should be giving her the space to breathe.

The other time that I drone on is about chores. That constant: can you do this? Have you done that? I asked you to tidy up and so on, doesn’t teach them to notice for themselves when things need doing. I repeat myself too frequently. I am not raising robots, I am bringing up independent human beings, whom I want to be self-aware.

Parent drones are well meaning, because not being a drone can feel detached and alienating and, as I said at the beginning of this post, hands off parenting can make you feel extremely guilty. Ironically, in order to develop our children’s confidence, we need to develop our own. Do you think our own parents ever felt guilty when they told us to, “go and play”? No, because they weren’t surrounded by other parents who were hovering over their offspring and they weren’t being constantly fed horror stories in the media about paedophiles who lurk on every corner. They don’t. But they do exist. They exist in places where you cannot always be: it could be your child’s friend’s dad, or a family member. All we can do is to develop our children’s confidence and self esteem; let go and trust.

So next time I’m sick of my own voice droning on I might just shut up and see what happens. I might actually be pleasantly surprised.

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Love Island: The Nation’s Moral Compass

We’ve just got rid of Love Island – sorry, I know that some of you were avid watchers of it, so no need to despair! As I was perusing tonight’s TV schedule I noticed two new shows that may just excite you. If watching young, hot bodies is your thing then tonight you were quite possibly in luck. The first one to catch my eye was: Coach Trip – Road to Ibiza (E4, 7.30pm). My first thought was that it involved elderly people, as for some reason I associate coach trips with the old and then I thought that perhaps it is a Geographical programme. Alas, no. The reviewer called it a: ‘claustrophobic popularity contest’ and also used the word, ‘savage’. What is it with our seeming desire as humans to want to watch other humans basically drown in their own piss? Because that’s what all these reality shows rely on: people making complete twats of themselves, often at others expense, for our supposed enjoyment. Isn’t this what Big Brother continues to do?

I may be scathing of them, but I actually applied to go on one of them last year: Bear Grylls’, ‘The Island’. Watching the first series I, like thousands of others, thought that I fancied that challenge. I loved the idea of seeing how far I could push myself mentally and physically. I found the idea exhilarating. I didn’t get chosen, but watching the second series I realised that it is all about personalities and about the producers lining people up for an epic on screen fail. I saw how naive I was to think that the experience would be ultimately a personal journey. No, what the experience would be is a constant battle to stay sane in an environment where you have been set up to fall down at every opportunity, not just through being constantly hungry, but by being endlessly challenged by the other people who surround you. This is a modern day Lord of the Flies. They stick a couple of fairly normal people on there and the rest of them are completely bonkers. It’s a personal journey in popularity, both on and off screen. It’s narcissism packaged as survival.

Talking of which, if, ‘Coach Trip’ wasn’t enough excitement for you tonight, you could have put on the kettle or poured yourself another glass of wine and settled yourself down to watch: Naked Attraction, (C4, 10pm). Or, as the reviewer called it: another new low. This is a dating show where the contestants see each other naked before going for a night out. Now call me old fashioned, but isn’t it better to check that the guy has a personality, before clocking the size of his dick. Because, let’s face it, he could be hung like a fucking donkey, but if he can’t string a sentence together, has halitosis, or supports Donald Trump, it could be a deal breaker, whatever the size of his knob.

Apparently the presenter, Anna Richardson, stands with a singleton in front of six naked men and tells her: “Each of these guys has an attribute you have said is attractive to you.” But you can’t see narcissism, we all cry! Actually, I think that we really would cry if we had to watch this. But do not despair, because over on Channel 5 at the same time is Big Brother…pass the remote.

Suddenly, according to an unlikely source, The Telegraph: ‘Love Island is looking like Britain’s moral compass.’ Well, what does that say about us?

All's fair in love and war: some of the Love Island cast 

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Bonsai Parenting

You know when you read an article and you find yourself nodding along to it, like your favourite tune and then when you’ve finished reading it you want to high five the author? Well that’s exactly how I felt when I read an article based on a book called: How to Raise an Adult, by Julie Lythcott-Haims, in which, according to the article, ‘she is on a mission to wake up parents to the damage that well-meaning over-involvement causes’.

So often we read articles about ways in which we are damaging our children and think to ourselves: oh crap, yes. But here was one where I actually appear to be doing a great deal right – some of it by accident, some through not having the time to parent any other way and some of it by instinct.

I have 5 girls and a boy, two of which are step children. I guess you could say that I have had quite a lot of practice on how to raise an adult and I’m still learning on the job, often feeling my way in the dark and quite often feeling confused.

My step daughter has just graduated from University. There is no denying that she was my Guinea pig, but as she has managed to get through her degree and had an amazingly enriching time in the process, I guess that us parents may have done something right. Although, of course she must take a great deal of the credit, I think that we set her on the right road. The thing is though, there were so many times when I felt what we were doing was harsh – she certainly thought so and it would have been so easy to take another path.

I remember a time when she was 15 and she wanted to go to her friend’s house, but her dad and I were both busy at home and didn’t want to trek over there. We told her to get the train and buses and then walk the final leg. She told us that her friends could not believe that we were asking her to do this. I wavered slightly and questioned whether we were indeed asking too much. Don’t you find yourself doing this a lot as a parent? Questioning yourself and your decisions? Analysing whether it is correct and fair. I feel that this is one of the hardest things about parenting a teenager.

The day she had to move in to her University halls of residence was on a Tuesday. Both her Dad and I were working, so we told her that we had to take her up on the Sunday. She wasn’t allowed to move in early and so we deposited her and all her belongings in a motel, that we had got her to locate and book, and said goodbye in the car park. Due to work, we didn’t visit her again in the three years she was there. On her moving in day, she got a taxi to her halls and moved herself in. Harsh?  Necessary – and I am glad that it was. As Lythcott-Haims points out in her book, as parents we need to pull back, because by over parenting, we haven’t taught our teenagers to survive by themselves in the world. This lack of skills of independence is at the heart of the rise of stress and anxiety among students.

The evening we left my step daughter in the motel was the first time she had ever left home, but we knew that we had paved the way for her to be able to cope with the situation. When we got home later that evening, I saw she had posted on Facebook a photo of her bonsai tree, sitting on the window sill of her motel room. I could easily have seen it as a symbol of her being alone. Lythcott-Haims says that we have created ‘bonsai teenagers’ who are pruned to perfection, yet not hardy enough to survive in the world outside.

My partner and I make sure that our children work, cook, travel independently wherever possible and they have all had their fair share of disappointment. We try to let them experience it, rather than protect them from it.

So when I saw my step daughter’s photo of the bonsai, I didn’t see it as an image of loneliness, I saw it as her saying to the world that she is ready for a new life: the roots were firmly established and she was ready to grow.

I don’t think for a moment that we are doing everything right, but this article gave me hope, when sometimes I feel harsh. A teenager may feel hard done by, but it is our job as parents to stand firm and then they will flourish.



Fake Snakeskin or Marmite? I Hate Both.

There’s a great deal of talk at the moment of beach bodies – being beach body ready. No one knows what the fuck it means and we’re not at all sure we care, but it’s that time of year none the less, when we may be hitting the beach and wearing something other than jeans. I’ve blogged recently about body image and granny’s getting their boobs out to give them a bit of the sunshine that we’ve all been feeling of late. We’ve all agreed to embrace our curves subjectively ie live with what we’re happy with (in my case, the result of not cutting out alcohol and peanut butter) and we’re still divided on the whole issue of topless bathing.


What I haven’t talked about, until now, is clothes.

Until, that is, I read about Bob Geldof’s recent behaviour at the Brentwood festival.

Now, Geldof is a bit like Jamie Oliver and Marmite I reckon: you either love him – probably for what he has done for charity and giving us a song to sing when we’ve had a great weekend but now it’s over. Or, you bloody hate him. Perhaps for no particular reason, other than he can come across as a jumped up twat.

Well, on Sunday at the festival, fans walked out after he made foul-mouthed comments about their clothes.

Firstly, he told the crowd how mega the Boomtown Rats are: “How do we know that you are Brentwood and we are mega? Because I am wearing a fuck off pretend snakeskin suit.”

FullSizeRender(1)At which point, I would have been saying: and your point? He expanded, basically telling the festival goers how amazing his band looked in their purple suits with elasticated waistbands (that just says ‘fat’ to me) and their cowboy shirts.

By now, had I been there, I think that I would have been looking at this group of ageing blokes, hanging on to the old idea of rock and roll, with their references to their cutting edge fashion and I’d have been thinking: you sad old bastards. But I may have given them the benefit of the doubt,  if Bob had shut the fuck up and got on with the music – which was really why everyone had paid £25 to be there. Not, for a bloody fashion show.

However, he didn’t shut up. He apparently went on to say: “on the other hand Brentwood, you are wearing wall-to-wall fucking Primark. This is a rock and roll festival. When you come to a rock and roll festival you dress for a rock and roll festival”.

No, you complete and utter arsehole. When you pay £25 of hard-earned cash to go to a music festival, you are paying to listen to some decent music. You are not paying to be judged on your choice of attire. And actually you twat, those people that did pay to hear you sing, are there to judge you on your ability to perform and not the other way around.

Someone tweeted: Horrendous individual, who loves the sound of his own voice. He hasn’t made a decent track in ages.

I say:

1. No-one disses Primark, as my entire summer holiday wardrobe and my kids’ consists of it. Unfortunately I can’t afford fake snakeskin, but if I could…I wouldn’t be seen dead in such a ridiculously shit choice.

2. That I’ve just gone off Marmite.

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Daughter 2 is spending over 2 weeks of her Summer holiday with a friend in Spain and then a further week with her Dad. It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t going to see her for almost a month. We should go on a bonding trip before you go, I suggested to her, optimistically. She vaguely agreed it would be a nice idea and we searched our the diary for a suitable time. The only window of opportunity was one day after school. It would give us an hour to bond over shopping until the shops shut and then possibly pizza for tea. With that – there is literally always at least one person overhearing a conversation in this house – two of her sisters insisted that they join us. Daughter 2 was not amused, but there was no stopping them. Those two words: shopping and pizza are like the Holy Grail for teenagers and they weren’t going to miss out.

The list of final items that she needed for the trip abroad seemed to be purchasable at Superdrug. In we all went. Grab a basket, I said (as you do). Three sets of eyes looked at me, completely incredulously. Oh my God, no way! Why would you want to do that? Daughter 2 asked with utmost disdain. Erm…(I wondered what to say, as it seemed pretty obvious to me). I hovered by the baskets. So that you can put the things you want to buy in it? I ventured, tentatively. Three teenagers stared back at me. Why? Why not? I replied. It’s so embarrassing, Daughter 2 continued undeterred. All three girls were now shaking their heads at me. Where are you going to put your items? I questioned, with perfect reasoning. You just hold them in your hands, came the answer and with that, they all disappeared down the first aisle.

I need a new toothbrush, daughter 2 said. I pointed to the travel variety. I’ll have one of those too, daughter 1 decided. The offer on the travel products was 3 for 2. We may as well get something else, daughter 1 suggested, with the sharpness of a keen shopper. There was every toiletry option you could imagine on display. Great swathes of miniature shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sun creams, toothpastes, cleansers. You know the score. Everything you could possibly need for a holiday. All in cute, little packages. Daughter 2 reached forward: Sudocrem, she declared and grabbed at the familiar red and white tube. Familiar to me because I used to smear it across their arses with impunity several years ago. Now it was my turn to ask, why? What are you going to do with Sudocrem in Spain, that after sun can’t handle? True, she said putting it back and she grabbed a deodorant, adding it to her already rather full hands.

We need a basket, daughter 2 said. I looked at her incredulously. I shook my head. I’m not carrying a basket, I said. It would just be far too embarrassing. She shot me a look.

I waved my I phone confidently over the payment screen. This was only my second successful attempt at using Apple Pay. Up until then, when I tried, I could never get it to work and as the queues would form, I would get more and more flustered and give up. Then the other day, daughter 1 was with me and with the voice of a nursery school teacher showing a small child, she explained that I was holding my phone on the wrong side. Finally, success!

Daughter 2’s bag of holiday goodies sat at the checkout, as she sauntered out the door. Don’t forget your bag! I called to her. Can you carry it? She retorted. Some of the stuff’s yours. One solitary bottle of Radox Muscle Soak was mine, in amongst a mound of her requirements. I’m guessing that it would be mortifying for her should she bump into someone from school carrying a Superdrug bag…I left it there and walked off.

I’m not sure that the trip was quite the bonding trip with her that I had hoped for. One thing I have learnt with kids though, whatever their ages: lower all expectations, but hang on to love…oh and a basket.

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Just a Bunch of Disenchanted, Narcissistic Trolls

Ok, so what I’ve gathered over the past few weeks, is that we’re a human race full of disenchanted, body image confused, narcissistic, trolling commitment phobes…but apart from that, we’re doing ok. If you are able to get past Boris as Foreign Secretary and Donald Trump as potential President of one of the most powerful countries in the world – powerful, despite being complete nutters in so many respects: gun laws spring to mind. 

Brexit illustrated how fed up people are with, well generally everything. They just want a goddamn change and bugger the consequences. We’re British (just about) and we’ll pull through. 

We’re body image confused, because one minute we’re being told to eat nothing but carrots, so that we can have the beach body of a stick insect and the next minute we’re being told to embrace our curves, as long as we do it confidently and whilst smiling, eating organic chocolate and knocking back bottles of red wine with all their life enhancing flavonoids. But don’t, for god’s sake put on weight if you’re a celebrity, because suddenly you’ll find that you are being branded as pregnant with Jesus’ love child and it’s a girl, in case you were wondering. You’re calling her Monica and decorating her nursery in Cath Kidston. Oh, and by the way, it’s a miracle (presumably because you’re so old) and it’s saved your marriage. Sorry, what? You’re saying you’re not pregnant? Bollocks to that. Don’t let minor details get in the way of a good story. 


We’re narcissistic because Snap chat and Instagram have made us that way. It’s not our fault. Facebook got the ball rolling, Twitter took up the baton: I’m eating a sandwich #nice – I don’t fucking care, but please like my photo on Instagram, because if I get less that 50, it’s an epic fail. No holds barred- I’ll send the tit pic and sod the consequences. Whaddaya mean it’s a criminal offence? Get it out there – don’t worry that it’s now gone around the entire school and the police are knocking on every year 10 boys’ door. 

Someone dared to kiss their own child on the lips. OMG, that’s DISGUSTING! Out come the trolls: you’re not getting over this bridge you dirty bastards, we’re going to gobble you up, they say to the goats, who are generally just decent people wanting to carry on with their lives – where, by the way, the grass may, or may not be greener. You voted for Brexit? Rot in hell! You left your kid in the car while you went and paid for your petrol? Child abuse! Call the Social Services. What do you mean, they’re not available due to staff shortages? 

Image result for billy goats gruff story images

Have you ever thought about how attention seeking we’ve become as a human race? We’re feeding the trolls all the fodder they need by actually engaging with them. I’m sure that they are professionals, paid by Zuckerberg to keep Facebook alive. Then there’s the selfies and oh my, the shallowness of it all. Love Island – nuff said. People can’t get enough of this shit. Has Big Brother died a death yet, or are we onto BB100? How much more can we all take? People’s eyes are glazed over with the sycophantic abuse they’ve been assaulted with. It all makes Eastenders look like a vaguely interesting documentary on real life in that part of London. Next it will be studied for A level Sociology along with the next anti-classic for English Lit. For God’s sake don’t veer away from the shallows, for fear of getting engulfed by a wave of deep and interesting debate. Kids don’t know how to debate anymore. Hell, they can’t even communicate with each other unless there’s a screen involved. What hope is there for a good, old fashioned debate about anything? Please don’t for fucks sake have an opinion on anything, because it will divert you from the important task in hand of getting a date on Tinder, whilst propping up the student union bar. Commitment? Sorry, what’s that? Is it spelt with two ‘m’s? 

So, what are the positives that exist that we can chat to our kids about over our next family meal? (That incidentally will consist of exactly NOT what I have seen on a cookery programme or Pinterest, but probably of pasta with a Dolmio Bolognaise sauce). The positives are that technology is advancing and with the advent of the driverless car, we can all pile in, drive to the pub, get shitfaced and just care less. 

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Commitment means

A thread on my local Facebook Mum’s page the other day really got me  thinking annoyed. It actually really annoyed me. The woman who posted it was annoyed too and I don’t blame her. You see, she had invited 30 children to a 9th birthday party. 22 accepted, 16 turned up. She was out of pocket on the party bags, but luckily the leisure centre where the party was being held only required a deposit of 12 places and the balance was paid at the party. However, in the thread that ensued on the mums’ network the comments poured in and one lady said her sister was once out of pocket by over £100, due to kids not turning up.

Now, I am sorry, but this is down right bloody rude behaviour from these parents. This was in no way an isolated incident. Comment after comment cited similar experiences. This unfortunately is an extremely common, modern phenomenon.

Don’t get me wrong – we all fuck up every now and again. But when I fuck up I am mortified. If I forgot a party I would make sure that I rang the mum and apologised profusely. I would be so embarrassed. What annoyed me and upset me about what was being said on this thread, was that not only did people not reply, they also replied that their child would be there and then didn’t show. Or, a common theme seems to be that people wait until the last minute to reply, to see if something better comes along. What is this teaching their kids about commitment?

My girls all work for me. They teach in our Taekwon-do classes and get paid to do so. There have been a few times when something better than paid work has come along, perhaps a day’s shopping with friends. However, we have taught them that they cannot let us down. If they want to miss work, they must organise cover (luckily for them there are several of them to choose from). On the odd occasion they can’t get cover, they have to e mail the instructor who they work with and apologise, or miss out on the alternative. They are learning the rules of commitment.

In my blog: Is the Art of Communication Dead? I featured the vlogger Nicole Arbour, who talks about how kids nowadays don’t want commitment. They seem to be repelled by it. You can read this blog here:

Is the Art of Communication Dead?

Reading the party thread, I now know where they get this attitude from.

My theory is that technology is making it too easy not to commit to things. Firstly, you can mark an e mail as unread. It may sit there and prick at your conscience every so often, but it is not a voice at the end of a phone line requiring an immediate response. E mails also get swallowed up – marked as read at a red traffic light and then forgotten. E mails mean that we can leave them hanging around in our inbox until a better e mail comes along. Without the necessity of face to face contact or an awkward phone call, it is far too easy to lie in your reply – no body language to read, or faltering tone to pick up on. It isn’t just kids’ parties where this attitude pervades, we see the same attitudes through our work.

Such is the RSVP nightmare these days, that psychologists are issuing advice on how to deal with it:

There are ways to goad them into action, says media psychologist Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D., director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Boston (and herself a mother of six). She likes to start with a paper invite and tuck in a balloon or stickers. Yes, it’s more effort, but you’ll get a higher rate of return. “Research shows people respond more when you’ve given them something, even if it’s small,” Dr. Rutledge says. Jotting a note creates a further sense of obligation (“Looking forward to having Sean join us!”).

If your initial invitation is sent electronically, prod parents with an e-mail: “Please RSVP so there isn’t a pizza shortage!” (“Our brain responds to scarcity,” Dr. Rutledge notes.) Oh, and bribes work too. “Appeal to parents by saying, ‘RSVP by this date and you’re entered in a raffle for a bottle of wine,'” she says.

So, next time you are organising a kid’s party, bear in mind this advice. Alternatively, don’t bloody bother with it in the first place, because quite honestly, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

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