Why I am not attending Women’s Conference this year

I love my job.  When was the last time I said that? I think it was about 25 years ago when I worked for London Regional Transport as they were then. But this job, wow.  Why did I not go to special school before, it’s so much fun. Not like mainstream at all. There is, in fact, nothing in common with it at all. Maybe that’s why I love it.  When I handed my resignation in my head teacher was stunned.

“Why do you want to leave?” she asked

“Are you kidding?” I wanted to say, “When you treat us all like shit??”

Of course I didn’t say this.  I made some asinine comment about new challenges.

Two months in, I have learned a lot. These children are amazing and I love them all, even the ones that are quite difficult to love. The school is so well run and everything is fro the children. I know that sounds strange in a school but trust me a lot of them are run for the parents.  This one, this is for the children. Christmas was wonderful there and I loved it.  Nothing at all to upset me. Nothing that is, until I offered to help the union steward out.  I had been a steward at my other school for two years and thought I could support her. I was somewhat surprised when she said she didn’t want the job and did I want to do it.  Um yes!  I canvassed the staff to see if anyone else wanted it but Quelle surprise, no-one did.

Out of politeness I informed the head teacher of this change of steward ship.  She was less than impressed. I noticed a positive coolness descend between us.

“We don’t need a steward here” she remarked “work relations are fine”

“The union is not only for work relations” I began “surely you must realised working with children it’s a must to belong to a union”

She understood all right. It’s not if but when you are accused of something unsavoury.  Sad but true. She smiled through gritted teeth but I knew everything I did would be an uphill struggle

And so it came to pass that I was required to attend the Women’s Unison conference in Brighton in February.  I say required, I wanted to go very much. As luck would have it, it’s the week before halt term.  A week later and it would have been no problem. I filled in the form for the time off.  A big no was the reply.  Two days, I wanted two days.  No was the resounding reply.

I have got Branch involved, but basically she does not have to give me the time.   I was even willing to do it unpaid but no.  Crumbs! she must really hate the union.  One tiny worry is that I am still on probation. I get the impression that she would like me to fail.  I must watch my step

This should have been written on 3rd October, sorry for delay

So I got the job. Can you believe it? I didn’t. When I got the big envelope I stood for quite a while just feeling the thickness, knowing it could not be a rejection.  It takes one sheet to say no.  It takes more than that to say yes.  Forms to fill in, bank account, CRB, other boring, necessary stuff. When I eventually opened it I was stunned. I shrieked “I got the job!” to no-one in particular.  My phone pings.  It’s   Uni-boy.  He has just been discharged from hospital.  Just a cotton picking moment, I didn’t know he was in hospital. Readers with a good memory will recall the last post detailing his fainting moment.  He was admitted to hospital for a brain scan.  He didn’t tell us in case we worried.  I was worried. Apparently nothing wrong with the brain apart from some small lesions he has probably had since birth.  Now I am really worried.  I do the thing; you know the thing, I Googled it. When your son tells you he is fine, just believe him.  Do not and I mean DO NOT Google it. All sorts of terrible things came up. I Skype him.  He looks terrible but he assures me its lack of sleep. I promise to visit at half term which is one month away.  He looks happy.  I tell him I got the job.  I can help thinking, as one door opens another slams in your face.

We go out to celebrate my new job but I am not really into celebrating. It’s not until the next day when I present my resignation that I begin to feel some sort of pleasure.  This is the first job I have gone for that has not been for the money. This is a real desire to do the job, to learn about Autistic children. To help them if I can.  It will not be an easy job; every day will be a challenge.  Bit like Uni-boy.  It’s all an uphill struggle. If he can manage Uni which at the moment he hates, I can manage a special school.  Watch this space.

Eat your spaghetti – a cautionary tale

I picked listlessly at the huge plate of spaghetti.  I don’t really like spaghetti, it’s kind of tasteless, mushy and well there was far too much. A massive problem for me, since offspring flew the nest, is portion control.  I was used to cooking for at least five often more hungry mouths. Hence the huge plate of spaghetti.  It expands you see. It doesn’t look much in the pan and then bam! It doubles. I guiltily threw the spaghetti in the recycling bin.  I know most would disapprove but come on! At least I recycled! Of course I was then immediately hungry so I ate yoghurt, a cup cake and a bar of snickers. (Other chocolate bars are available.)

I remained guilt free until today when I got the Whatsapp message from Uni-boy. (other message services are available ) He had fainted again.  He suffers from fainting fits, usually first thing in the morning when he has not taken his iron pills, or if he hasn’t eaten.  He had woken on his bedroom floor with a cut arm, swollen cheek and grazed knees.  He remembers nothing, but has concluded that it was fainting and not alcohol that brought it on. On further investigation it appears he neither eaten nor taken his iron pills. I think of the uneaten spaghetti and how this is somehow karma.

Uni-boy sends me a picture of his arm.  The cut is quite bad.  The battery on my phone is about to die so I am unable to phone him. I think of going to my car so I can ring him with the engine running and the phone plugged to in-car charger.  Not only is this terrible for the environment, I have forgotten my fob, therefore I cannot leave the building without going via the office.  It is not lunchtime. Karma clearly hates me.

Luckily Uni-girl is more organised than me and rings him and then Whatsapp’s me to say he is fine and has promised to visit the doctor. On arriving home, I ring immediately and extract a promise that he will shop and cook and send photographic evidence that he has done both.

I cook dinner and studiously eat it all. (And yoghurt and a Mars bar – other chocolate bars are available.)

My phone pings.  It is a picture of a Pizza Hut menu and some coins. I know other take away options are available and although I don’t approve of him living on take-aways, at least he won’t be fainting tomorrow.

New directions, new ideas. Just need the first step

So how is life sans children? This has been an eventful week.  I had a job interview for a local school.  I already work in an interesting North London school. However this school is one specialising in Autism. I have never considered a special school before but they are amazing places.  I had a wonderful day there and the children were remarkable. I kick myself that I have never thought about the move before.  I came out feeling energized and inspired and I spent the whole of the next day thinking about the school and hoping to get the job.  I won’t know for another week as they have references to get. This is definitely an area I am interested in getting into. It was so depressing to go back to my school where I feel worthless and undervalued.

On the home front I have spent the last three evenings alone. Children at university or boyfriend’s house and husband firmly in the pub. I wish I cold say I was doing useful things but to be honest I am playing candy crush or watching tat on the telly. I used to play words with friends but after an unfortunate incident with a stranger (least said, soonest mended) I no longer play. 

News on my University son is more postive.  He is doing the washing, cooking, going out and judging from photos on facebook having a whale of a time.  I am pleased, if a little lonely.

However, November is nearly here and with it NaNoWrimo.  This is an annual writing project where you write a novel in a month. I fully intend to write Turbo Duck after thinking about it for ten years.  I also have my drawing and cross stitch so enough procrastinating.  Off with the computer and telly and oh wait! The IT crowd is on.  I will just watch that and then off to something else. Honest…

The first week is the hardest…

My son is not a hugger, so when he gave me a huge hug and said “don’t leave me here” my heart broke into a million pieces.  I spent the long rainy dark journey home in bits.

He has been at Derby for one week today.  One week today. I was very impressed with the university.  They seemed to really care. Taking care to ensure he had everything he needed, enrolling him with the doctor, ordering his medication straight away.  The flat is lovely and modern.  The supermarket is nearby so we could fill his cupboards and we lunched at a lovely Carvery. Once food was put away in the kitchen we felt it was time to leave him to get to know his flatmates.

And then the hug…

His sisters, both themselves veteran uni students, advised him to leave his door propped open while he unpacked and to say hi to anyone who passed.  His door is next to the bathroom and kitchen so has quite a bit of traffic. He promised he would do this.

The journey back, so different from the journey there, was long.  The greasy rain-soaked M1 was packed with traffic, had frequent accidents and somewhat prematurely darkened.

The texts we received from son were not inspiring.  I have spoken to one person, supposed to be going out tonight but just too tired. I talked myself out of driving straight back up to get him.

The next evening Skype did not bring much relief.  He does not enjoy his flatmates.  It was difficult to ascertain exactly what the problem was, just that they had different interests.

By the third day he was “too busy to Skype”. I was much heartened by this. A Geography trip to the Peak District filled his day and a visit to the comedy club filled his evening.

By this weekend he is tagged in photos of parties at his flat and the messages are more upbeat.  He has fresher’s flu.  And I am pleased with this?  Well, yes, it means he has been out enjoying himself, surely what uni is about.

It’s not been an easy week.  I too, have been busy keeping myself busy.  I am not artistic by any means but a friend has given me a book about doodling.  It’s called Zentangles.  I have put pictures of some of my efforts. Two kids at Uni, the eldest at boyfriends’ house, the old man in the pub.  I am lost in drawing.   It seems there is life after motherhood after all. P1010515

Derby…here we come

Its here, it’s finally here, the day I have been dreading for about eighteen years. Tomorrow my son, my youngest baby will be moving out and off to university. Of course I know he has to go. Crumbs, I was the one who talked him into it, who drove him to numerous universities from which he made his choice.
I have spent the last few months stockpiling bits and pieces for him to take. It was a tradition that his Nan gave a big box to any grandchild off to uni filled with jumbo packets of rice, oil, salt etc. Things they often brought back after three years there. Sadly, his Nan died two days before he took his final exam. It made me sad that he would not get this. And then I was touched when his aunt got a box with all the inappropriate stuff in it.
Tomorrow I shall drive him 127 miles with the car filled with everything he needs and a few things he doesn’t, to his new home in Derby . “You are not going to cry are you?” he asked me yesterday. Well, I can’t guarantee that I won’t. I cried when he first went to school, when he left primary school and when the hamster died (but that’s another story.). I also cried when Auntie bought the box.
After the stuff is dropped at his new room, he will take him to lunch and to the local supermarket, fill his kitchen with food which he probably wont cook and wend our way home.
He will be fine. He was perfectly fine when he started school and didn’t even look back. He did not need me at all. And that, really, is the problem isn’t it. This isn’t so much about him going off on his own it’s the fact that he doesn’t need me anymore. He is quite capable of making his way in life without me. I will text and write and I know he will not bother to respond. I know this because he is the third child I have sent off to uni and the other two breezed it.
I am going to have empty nest syndrome. Imagine the evenings, two kids at uni, the eldest out most of the time and me with my cross stitch and the telly and the old man.
I believe I should look upon this as a chance for me to start my life again. Take up new hobbies, go to the gym, and write this blog more. This is a chance for me to be me instead of mum. Yes! I shall write my novel, learn to crochet, and learn to knit. Lets look at this as a good thing. For my son and for me.
However, I hope the kids do still need me occasionally though….


Stairway to Hell

I was honest with him from the start.  “I can’t measure” I told him.  I did not want to mention the patio debacle of 1991. I like to think the extra 15 slabs we purchased based on my measurements of the garden have come in handy. To be honest though, they are piled guiltily at the bottom of the garden. So in order to not repeat this I told him.  “I cannot measure”.

“It will be fine” he assured me and, using my measurements, tapped on his calculator.  £442 was the final answer. He didn’t even phone a friend. We had disappointed him from the beginning.  When he first heard we were in the market for a stair carpet he had told us we must spend at least £15.99 a square metre.  We had laughed good naturedly and then said we wanted one for £8.99. 

“Underlay?” he had said tentatively. 

“Cheapest!” was our cheery reply.

So he wasn’t really in a jovial mood when I suggested someone other than myself measure the stairs. 

“It will be fine” was his sole offering.

So it was no real surprise when the carpet fitter arrived two days later and announced that the carpet would not fit our stairs. He was very sympathetic and told me soothingly that stairs were tricky things to measure. He measured for me and told me the shop would ring me.  The shop didn’t ring me. 

Two days later I rang them.  “You’ll have to pay for both carpets.”  The lady crisply informed me. ”the other carpet is unusable.”

I was not impressed. I would go so far as to say I was annoyed. Infuriated even.  I took to twitter and complained, with hashtags, naming the shop. Head office replied in 29 minutes.  (Good going twitter!)

The shop rang back.  “You only have to pay for the extra carpet you need.”  I begrudgingly agreed. “and we can’t fit for a week”  I was annoyed and infuriated again. I had bare boards as we had taken the carpet up to facilitate the new one.  Gripper rods were still on the stairs.  Every time I went up or down the stirs I ripped a bit more off of my skirts.  (I am a fan of long skirts) we also have two cats. I was terrified they would cut their paws open.

Back on twitter I said I would never use this shop again. Two hours later the shop rang back.  I would now not have to pay the extra money and a fitter had suddenly become available tomorrow. I love twitter.

The carpet was duly fitted and I love it!

Sweeping majestically down the stairs the next morning I discovered to my horror that the aforementioned cats had clawed a large hole in the corner of the hall. Does twitter fix cats??Image