Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How to expose your kids to different cultures

There has been a big hoo-ha in the UK news this week over a post on You Tube showing a woman being incredibly racist. The woman has, quite rightly in my opinion, been arrested, but it got me to wondering how people develop these views.

I want my three Peapods to be exposed to as much culture as possible. When choosing Bobby's first school we looked round one where the headteacher told us proudly,
"We're quite multicultural here. We have several different shades of pink." thanks!

Bobby, at 16, has already caught the travel bug, not craving sunny beach holidays, but trekking through the Amazon in Peru and building sensory gardens in Romania. There is no need to travel that far to experience the world. The UK is a lush garden of cultures, which can surely only be a good thing.

To those who say that people should stick to the country they were born in, I would say this: Think of all the things we would not have if people didn't move around a bit. Pizza, Chinese food, Italian fashion, the wheel... A world without cultural enrichment doesn't bear thinking about!

To those who are still skeptical and are worried about overcrowding, lack of jobs etc, I would like to propose a solution to the problem.
(Government, I hope you are listening.)

My solution is this: We simply operate a swap system. We will allow into our country all the people that want to work, pay taxes, contribute to society and live in peace BUT we will swap these people, 1:1, for our violent louts, lazy druggies, drop-outs, persistent criminals and anyone who has ever appeared on Jeremy Kyle. Eventually, the countries where there is violence and political unrest already will be filled with the kind of folks who can basically just slug it out amongst themselves, whilst all the other countries will be filled with good, honest, hardworking people. It's such a simple solution I wonder that no-one has thought of it before. Vote for me!

Where you are born is purely a fluke. If this country became a war-torn dictatorship I would have no hesitation at all in trying to get my children to a safer country, and I believe any mummy would do the same.

Today: My favourite Peanuts cartoon
I remember a Peanuts cartoon I had when I was growing up, where Lucy and Linus discuss the worrying problem of overpopulation.
Overpopulation is a real problem! You should be worried about it. Some night you’re going to go to bed and when you get up the next morning there’ll be no place for you to stand.
Linus: Why should I worry? I’ll just go back to bed.

My kind of solution. Don't worry, be happy!

Mama Jax

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

How to save money on haircuts

When Bobby was small we didn't have much spare cash. (Hark at me acting like we're loaded now! We're not- we just don't care anymore!) I worked hard to save money wherever I could, making their clothes, using leftovers, walking everywhere; you get the idea.

Bobby was born with long thick hair which never fell out, as baby hair usually does, so haircuts were a must. On my tight budget, I decided a haircut in a hairdressers was an unnecessary expense and decided to cut her hair myself. I did some basic research with other mums on budgets; one of the best tips was how to cut hair so it was even on both sides. The tip was, to make sure you get your child's fringe straight, simply stick a piece of sticky tape across the child's fringe and cut it off. Sticky tape is straight, so if you follow the line of the tape the fringe will also be straight.

Right. A Good tip. Sticky tape in one hand, dressmaking scissors in the other and Bobby in the third* I set off on my haircutting mission. What I forgot to allow for was that Bobby was a wriggler. Just as I was about to stick my perfect straight line, she wriggled and ended up with sticky tape tangled in her hair. Her hair was, and is, incredibly thick, so by the time I had hacked out the sticky tape (NOT in a straight line), I still had several layers of hair underneath. I went sheepishly back to the hairdressers and pretended she had cut it herself...

* Not a typo- if you have kids you automatically get given a spare hand. It's God's way of trying to make it up to you, a bit like petrol station flowers.

When Peter was old enough for haircuts I decided to give it another go. Boys had to be easier than girls, right? Wrong. I invested in clippers, but by the time I got round to getting them out of the box Peter's hair was too long and thick to 'clipper' it without pulling.
"Never mind," thought I, "I will cut it a bit shorter, then clipper it."
Out came the dressmaking scissors again. I have to confess I got a bit scissor-happy, pretending I was a proper hairdresser. I then 'clippered', but had cut Peter's hair so unevenly that it was impossible to make his hair look good. By the time I finished, Peter looked like he had mange.

I have never made any attempt to cut Phyllis' hair; she is far too vain to even let me try. Either that, or the other two have warned her to RUN FOR THE HILLS if she ever sees me with scissors.

Today: The importance of teaching your kids to use their 'thinking voice'
Peter (really loud): Oh look, there's the man with no hair again!
At 3 or 4 that would be pretty cute, but Peter was 13 at the time. Not so cute.

Mama Jax

Sunday, 27 November 2011

How to win a fancy dress competition

If you have kids you will at some point be expected to enter them into a fancy dress competition, be it at school, on holiday, for a party or a carnival- if you have small fry it will happen. Best to be prepared.

I'm a very competitive mum. I try not to be, but I'm the one who, for example in colouring competitions, gets their child to create a collage to give them the edge. It's not the winning particularly, it's the prizes I love. Trophies, gift vouchers, chocolate... I'm not really fussy. I really identify with Violet Beauregard's mum from Johnny Depp's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory': "Eyes on the prize, Violet." That's me.

Ok, here's what I've learned about fancy dress competitions. A bought costume will never win. Much as you think they are judging the kids, they are not; they are judging your competence as a parent. It is also no good to painstakingly sew a beautiful costume. Judges will become suspicious and think you bought it on eBay. The best kind of costume is one that looks as if the kids made it. Luckily, my craft skills are such that everything I make looks like it was made by a preschooler.

Here are a few easy yet impressive ideas, all of which have been tried and tested by either myself or a close friend:

Bin liners:
  • Put your child in a bin liner. Add a few white spots. Hey presto, a domino.
  • For the more artistic among you, use a gold pen to scroll on the logo of an After Eight mint
  • Glue on some brown cardboard spots, cover a sink plunger and a colander (with the handle facing forward) in bin liners, attach chrome salt and pepper pots for antennae (available in all good budget caravans). A Dalek.

  • Put your child in a box. Cover with tinfoil. A robot.
  • Put your child in a box. Cover with wrapping paper and add a bow. A present
  • (My own personal favourite, courtesy of one of my very best friends) Put your child in a box. Cover in coloured squares. A Rubik cube.
*If you put your child in a box costume, make sure you are on hand to help them move. A stuck child is not a winning child...

Other easy costumes:

  • Cover an umbrella in bubble wrap. A jellyfish
  • Stick a few leaves on a kid's bikini (girl) and swimming trunks (boy). Give the kids an apple and a plastic snake. Adam and Eve.
  • Stick some yellow circle stickers for buttons on a red t-shirt. Cover a plastic toy policeman's helmet (or similar) in black faux fur. A Beefeater.
  • For the intellectuals among you (you know, those of you who can afford a proper holiday and don't have to go on the £9 holidays from The Sun with all the other Lidl families): Make your child a 'dress' from newspaper. The Guardian is good for this- you will see why in a minute. Add a tiara and a Miss World style sash reading 'Miss Print'.

The only thing with being a competitive mum is that you will come across other competitive mums. My kids came second with my slapdash Adam and Eve costumes, and the Umbrella Jellyfish woman's child came first, which REALLY annoyed the mum who had spent ages papier macheing her child into the shape of Elmer the Elephant...

One last tip: try to get the judges to focus on the costume, not the resigned and embarrassed face of the small child IN the costume. If you feel a twinge of guilt for being a pushy competitive mum, just think how much fun your children will have when they have children of their own to dress up, and how good they will feel when their friends describe them as 'marvellously creative.' Sure, your grandkids will suffer, but that's their parents' problem.

Today: How this obsession was born
At the age of 10, my school held a Christmas Hat competition. Other kids' parents had rigged up working circuits for lights, sound and moving objects. My mum covered a straw sunhat in tissue paper leaves and stuck what I think was supposed to be a partridge on the front. It had feathers anyway. She then, bizarrely, sewed 4 foil milk bottle tops to dangle right in front of my face in the style of an Australian cork hat. No idea why, so don't ask.
My 'Partridge in a Pear Tree' hat came first. I don't even want to think about what mum did to make that happen. I won a plastic comb from the chemist, just like my Grandad's. Go me.

Mama Jax

Thursday, 24 November 2011

How to create an Essex girl

This week I took Phyllis for her first fake tan. I know 6 is a little young, but before you judge me, it's for a theatrical event.

Phyllis was born in Essex. The hospital were selling little pink fleece blankets with 'I'm an Essex girl' written on them.
"Ah look, they're so cute," cooed I, placing one gently over baby Phyllis as she slept.
Little did I know that that one action would be akin to Maleficent's curse in Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty':

"Before the Princess reaches her 16th birthday, she will don a pair of stilettos and become...a TOWIE girl! Mwah ha ha!"

Fearing the curse placed upon his small daughter, the King (aka hubby) issued the following decree:

Princess Phyllis must go into hiding in the countryside, where she will learn to talk to animals, bake the perfect Victoria sponge cake and call people, "My luvverrr."

For extra measure the King decreed that all stilettos in the kingdom should be BURNED.

But this was not enough to stop the curse of the 'Essex girl' blanket. At the age of 3, Phyllis had already raided Bobby's make-up bag and tried on everything, much to Bobby's annoyance. There wasn't one square millimetre of her face that wasn't covered in 'slap'.
Birthday money was spent on sequined bags. Pocket money was saved to buy 'clippy clop' shoes.

At the age of 4, a friend came to play (a friend who has lovely parents who teach her words like 'consequently') and the two girls went to play upstairs. They came down an hour later covered in 'tattoos' that they had drawn on themselves in pen. The friend, when daddy came to pick her up, instead of thanking me politely for my hospitality, looked at my small daughter and together they recited, "Loser, double loser, whatever GIRLFRIEND," with actions. The horrified father turned to me and accused, "You've made my child... street!!"

We had a mummy/daughter day in the school holidays and I allowed her free choice of what to do. Phyllis chose to go shopping for dresses and get her nails done in a salon.
She has asked Santa for a pink poodle for Christmas- a real one, not a toy. Santa has said, "No."

Phyllis loved every minute of her fake tan experience, commenting, "I don't like my white skin anymore. Can I have these all the time?" Again, no.

We are eagerly awaiting her 'true love' to come riding in on his tractor and give her Love's First Kiss to break the spell.

Actually though, if I'm honest, I love my little Essex girl. She's her own little person who is not influenced by those around her and dances to the beat of her own drum. How wonderful to have a daughter like that. Bet you're well jell!

Today: What Phyllis has learnt from living in the country:
"When you have roast chicken, you can eat all of it except the bum. You have to put the bum in the fridge, else how will you have any eggs?"
We may as well have stayed in Essex.

Mama Jax

Monday, 21 November 2011

How to survive your gene pool: My grandma

My grandma had a colourful life. One of her 'claims to fame' was that she had been thrown out of one of the very first UK cinemas for snogging in the back row. She'd then turn to my grandad and say, "It wasn't with you dear..."

My grandma was a very accomplished lady; she could sing, sew, play the piano and was fluent in French. Her house was like something from a Jane Austen novel. Everything in it was 'Top Drawer' i.e. worth a small fortune. This suited her breeding, but didn't quite fit with some of the things she got up to.

She used to wear stockings and suspenders, which would regularly 'ping'.
"Oops, woe is me for I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5) she would giggle, whipping up her skirt and doing herself back up. Isaiah would have been turning in his grave to be quoted in this context.

Every year at Christmas she would buy all the men in our family porn. While this grates on my feminist ideals, you can't help but admire the self confidence of a woman who would give her own husband and the husband of her only daughter a little bit on the side.

My grandma's accomplishments really came into their own when my mum and dad were first married. She was driving my dad somewhere (up the wall probably!) when he commented, "Did you notice that you just drove through a red light?"
Grandma: "No. Oh well."
Dad: "Well the police car behind you did."
Grandma looked in the mirror and lo, there was a police car chasing her, lights flashing.
Grandma:" Don't fret. I'll shake them off."
She then proceeded to speed through the streets of Ireland like Starsky and Hutch, the police car in hot pursuit. Unfortunately she eventually turned down a blind alley and had to stop the car. My dad by this time was hiding under the seat, cringing with embarrassment and wondering how he was going to persuade my mum to raise bail for not only her husband but her mother as well.

The policeman sauntered up to the car. My grandma wound down the window and smiled beatifically, but the policeman was having none of it. It was at this point that my grandma began speaking in French and pretending that she couldn't understand a word he was saying. The poor policeman, a young whippersnapper fresh from school, became so confused that he let her go with a caution, which he believed she didn't understand anyway.

So to recap, if you want to be like my wonderful grandma:

1. Behave inappropriately in cinemas
2. Buy porn
3. Drive like you're in a movie
4. Learn a language to avoid arrest for 1, 2 and 3

Today: There's no-one quite like grandma
Eventually my grandma was unable to look after herself and my mum made the difficult decision of putting her into a home. We visited regularly and tried to keep her cheerful.
Me: "This is nice grandma. You've got your own room, lovely windows..."
Grandma: "Don't be ridiculous, darling, it's full of old people and it smells of urine and cabbage."
There's no flies on grandma!

Mama Jax

Friday, 18 November 2011

How to talk to kids about sex; A guide for teachers

There is only one thing more cringe-worthy than having to talk to your kids about sex, and that is having to talk to other people's kids about sex. It is a sad fact that teens believe so many myths about sex, STDs, pregnancy and birth that the government should be seriously concerned that the human race could die out.

Teachers now have to talk about sex to children as young as 4, and deal with irate parents who, quite rightly, think this is a tad too young. Here's a news flash for those parents: the teachers agree with you.

There is a set curriculum for teaching kids about sex, but most teachers do the following:
Reception: "Stand up if you are a boy. Stand up if you are a girl. Great, now let's do maths,"
and develop it on from there.

There is some controversy by the time kids reach years 1 and 2 as they learn the scientific names for the less talked about parts of their bodies. Among the penises (penii?) and vaginas is the humble clitoris, which has causes ruffled feathers among the teaching profession who think this is a body part too far. My argument though is that we are training up a future generation who will be so rubbish at dirty talk ("Sexual intercourse my vagina...oooh yeah baby!") that if we don't teach at least the boys about the clitoris, we as a species will definitely die out. And let's face it girls, how many of you wish your partners had been taught where the clitoris is at school? Thought so...

Actually, the 'naming' lesson can cause a few giggles as the teacher has to ask, before teaching the correct names, what names kids have been taught by parents. We usually get things like front bottom, willy, lady garden, flower, pee-pee and other harmless terms. One of my colleagues, however, was totally floored when one 6 year old said daddy called his 'male parts' Verne and the Twins. How she got through the next parents' evening without blushing I'll never know.

The trouble with sex education really starts when kids hit about 14 and they know it all. They take great delight in trying to embarrass the poor teacher by asking personal questions. It takes a brave teacher to face a class of year 9 pupils. Whoever does this deserves a medal and a knighthood from the Queen, at the very least.

By the time kids reach 16, they usually do know it all, or at least more than the teacher. It is at this point that the cunning teacher, whilst giving the impression of teaching, will really be picking up tips to inject some passion into his/her own flailing love life. After all the embarrassment of years 1-10, the humiliating realisation that one's sex life is lame will just about finish one off. Never mind, I hear Tesco are hiring...

Today: The nursery rhymes my dad sent me to school with
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jill came down with half a crown...and she didn't get that for fetching water.

Little boy blue come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn
Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
He's under the haystack, 'doing' Bo Peep.

Mama Jax

Monday, 14 November 2011

How to talk to your kids about sex: A guide for parents

This is always going to be a tricky one. Let me start by telling you what NOT to do:
1. Don't leave it too late
2. Don't make it personal.

When I was 18, and after having been at university for two terms, my mum sat me down in her room to give me "The Talk." She proceeded to tell me in graphic detail about her first time with my dad, while I tried in vain to imagine myself in a happier place, humming 'Lalalalalala' on a loop in my head.
Therapy has not helped.

She also tried to scare me by informing me that once 'it' was over there was a knock on the front door and there stood a nun as a sign from the Lord that she had committed a cardinal sin by indulging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Now I'm all for scaring kids into behaving, but if mum had asked me, I could have saved her the warning and the
embarrassment. At 18, "The Talk" was a little too late.
Sorry mum.

I have tried to always be open and honest with my small fry, answering their questions about their bodies as they arise, and I am proud that my kids all talk to me about sex quite openly. Not quite so proud when they start asking about periods or pubic hair in restaurants. But despite some minor teething problems, openness so far seems to be working better than stories of nuns.

It's important when talking about sex to clarify the question before answering. For example, if a child asks, "Where did I co
me from?" check before you launch into a full explanation about 'Special Snuggles' that this is what they actually mean. I fell foul to this with Bobby. After explaining in a very lengthy, mature and sensible way about conception and birth (on the bus, I might add) she said,
"No, I mean where was I born?"

I'm a great advocate of using the correct terminology to avoid confusion. Talking about seeds and eggs to a child of four or five is enough to have them fear chickens and garden centres. Babies do n
ot come from tummies, they come from wombs. A friend of mine who was heavily pregnant with twins took her four year old to the park. On the bench sat a lady who could only be described as huge. Her little boy, having been told that mummy had two babies in her tummy, looked curiously at the woman before asking,
"How many babies have you eaten??"

Using the correct terminology also has the added bonus of annoying teens; when they swear, you can correct them by insisting they say 'Sexual Intercourse off', or call someone a 'Masturbator'. Hours of fun.

If all else fails and your stubborn teen remains firmly on the path to promiscuity, scare the heck out of them. There is a scene in the film 'Little Shop of Horrors' where Steve Martin as the Dentist is warning a timid Rick Moranis of the dangers of a neglected mouth (see photo). Watch this scene, and apply it to the dangers of sex.

You might think this last tip is a tad extreme, but before you judge me too severely let me ask you this: Do you really want to be a Granny/Grandpa at the age of 30? No? Didn't think so. Scare away!

Today: An important warning
It is your job as a parent to teach your kids about sex. If you don't, they will leave home and you will just begin to get your life back when they will move back in with boy/girlfriends and babies, who will then grow up and trash your house whilst their mum/dad goes out on the town all night and sleeps all day, leaving you to babysit.

Mama Jax

Saturday, 12 November 2011

How to make money from your kids

In these frugal times we are all having to tighten our belts a little. With Christmas coming up, budgeting is probably to the forefront of most people's minds, especially when you have kids. Last Christmas, hubby and I decided to go for homemade hampers for that 'personal' (i.e. cheap!) touch.
I have a wonderful friend whom I love dearly who bought me the most beautifully exquisite crystal tree decoration. Our 'homemade Christmas' idea didn't seem quite so inspired as I presented him with a personalised gingerbread man...

I have discovered with Phyllis that she is a media child and will ask for whatever happens to be advertised on T.V. at the time. I have become very cunning, and will ask her what she wants from Santa during adverts for Pringles.

There are ways, however, of making your small fry earn for you. There are obvious ways, such as child modelling, but much as I love my small folk I can admit quite openly that it is not for everyone...

For older kids, paper rounds and Saturday jobs alleviate the need for providing pocket money, and serve the double purpose of freeing your house of teen friends who will eat all the food in the fridge and bump up the electric bill with a variety of games and gadgets.

To be a financially savvy parent requires one to think outside the box. There are several places where money is lying around for the taking, and having a small child makes the job of taking it much easier. Here are a couple of examples:

1. When Bobby was little we took her to a pub/restaurant for a family 'do'. She got a bit fidgety, so we allowed her to go for a little toddle around, always keeping her in sight of course. She came back with about £15 in pound coins. When I asked her where she got them from, she said that most of the empty tables had money (that's tips to you and me) on them so she just helped herself.

2. When Peter was about 18 months we took him to church. I took my eyes of him for a minute to check in my purse for change for the collection; when I looked up, the bag had been and gone and Peter had a fistful of fivers.

Now I'm a really honest person, so I couldn't keep the money my kids had 'found' but it just goes to show there is money out there for the taking.

Actually maybe don't take this advise. With an influx of mini criminals the government will have to introduce Baby ASBOs and Kindergarten Jail, which means our taxes will be increased to pay for it. On reflection, this is a false economy.
Now where did I put that number for the model agency...

Today: How much should you put in the church collection?
It's a tricky one. You don't want God to think you are mean, particularly as He decides on your fate after death, but on the other hand if you only go sporadically you don't want to give loads towards a church roof that you won't appreciate. I have a friend who just opens up her purse and empties out the contents. Some weeks God gets £10 or £20. Other weeks he gets 24p, a Kirby grip and a used bus ticket. It all evens out in the end.

Mama Jax

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

How to put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington: Part 1b

Bobby on the second night
After Bobby's Diva-esque behaviour on the first night of the show, the director decided, wisely, that our small Heavenly Host was too much of a liability to be allowed to wait on stage. Instead she was to wait in the wings with Marshmallow Lady, who would nudge her on when it was time to 'appear'

Up to the point of Bobby's entrance, all had gone swimmingly. Mary's soul magnified the Lord, 3 Kings bore gifts and traversed afar, Shepherds watched flocks, inns had no room; it was everything a nativity should be.

Gabriel, safe in the knowledge that no small people were waving from behind her wings, shone with glory as only an Angel of Our Lord can. (Literally- the costume mistress had got a deal on a job lot of sequins. Most of the audience sported sunglasses.)

It was Bobby's big moment and she was poised like a greyhound in a trap. Unfortunately, Marshmallow Lady, instead of sticking to direction and just nudging, must have decided to 'big up' her part. At point of nudge, she whispered to Bobby, "Mind you don't trip over your dress." Bobby, freakishly obedient for once, grabbed her skirts, held them high over her head and streaked onto the stage in a blaze of gold costume and navy blue knickers. Her dress was held so high that she was unable to see where she was going, i.e. where to stop, the result being that she ran straight across the stage and off the other side. End of scene.

Gabriel and the shepherds shuffled off the stage awkwardly, like bewildered Telly Tubbies. There was no Heavenly Host in the sky that night, although to be fair they had been given the message only the night before...

Bobby, distressed at missing her big scene, was again mollified by marshmallows.
Hmm... Does anyone else think these antics may have been planned by a cunning Heavenly Host with a penchant for fluffy treats?

Today: The birth of Our Lord (rewritten by an 8 year old)
During my teaching practice I heard tell of a nativity where the innkeeper and Joseph both had a bit of a crush on the girl playing Mary. The boy playing Joseph was made up with himself- holding her hand, putting his arm around her and sneaking the odd kiss. Little did he suspect the evil plot brewing in the jealous innkeeper's mind...
Joseph: We-are-weary-travellers-and-my-wife-is-with-child-do-you-have-any-room-in-your-inn?
Jealous innkeeper: Mary can come in. You can b***er off!
Mary pulled in, door slammed in Joseph's face, and... Scene!

Mama Jax

Sunday, 6 November 2011

How to put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington: Part 1a

All three of my small fry have inherited my love of all things theatrical, daahling.
Bobby got her first taste of treading the boards at the age of 3 when she was cast as one of two 'Heavenly Hosts' in the church nativity. This was a proper 'show', mainly adults, with real lights and everything, and not a tea towel in sight.

The show was on for two nights. On the first night, the other Heavenly Host (the director's small son) got stage fright and refused to go on, leaving all the Heavenly Host glory to Bobby. And boy, did she milk it!

The plan was that while the shepherds were watching their flocks by night, Gabriel would be on stage, but in darkness, with the Heavenly Host hiding behind her enormous satin wings. At the given cue, the lights would blaze, the Heavenly Host would spring forth from behind Gabriel's wings and lo! the skies would be filled with angels (or angel) saying, "Glory to God!" That was the plan. This is what actually happened:

The shepherds, as well as watching their flocks, were engaged in an 'entertaining'* and 'comic'** chitchat about wind. The audience, much to the shepherds' surprise, began laughing. The shepherds, already hammed out to the acting max, upped their theatrical game. The laughs increased.

Little did they know that in the background a small Heavenly Host hand was waving at the audience from behind Gabriel's wings. Laugh. The hand disappeared, then waved again from the other side. Laugh. Then a hand appeared from one wing, and a foot from the other in a bizarre Superman/Angel love-child fusion. Laugh.

On her cue to appear, Bobby got tangled up in the enormous satin wings. Gabriel, looking embarrassed (she was a teen), tried valiently to untangle her. Once freed, Bobby stomped to the front and literally ROARED, "Glory to God!!!" No wonder the poor shepherds reacted with fear and trembling. Would you want a pint sized, growling Heavenly Host jumping out at you on a dark night??

It was at this point that Bobby realised that her part wasn't all it was cracked up to be. In true Diva style, she refused point blank to leave the stage. Gabriel tried desperately to usher her off, whilst one of the stage hands stood in the wings and tried to coax her off with a bag of pink marshmallows.

The following night, the direction was amended...
Tune in tomorrow to find out what happened next!

Mama Jax

*Not really
**Definitely not!

Friday, 4 November 2011

How to embarrass your teen

If you have a teenage son or daughter, you will know that no matter what you do or don't do they will find you embarrassing. They will hate your music, your clothes, your decor, your social interactions, anything at all you say at parent consultations... The list is endless.
So what I say is, if you are going to be an embarrassment anyway, why not have some fun with it!!!

Hubby and I sing along to show tunes at full volume in the car with the windows open ('Oklahoma' being a current personal favourite due to 'YEEOW!' opportunities).
We have decorated our house in colours so vibrant they would make Laurence Llewelyn Bowen consider sunglasses.
We have a 'phone shaped like a pink stiletto (keeps them off the 'phone!) and a cuckoo clock with a camp donkey which 'Hee-Haw's on the hour every hour.
We dress up in fancy dress whenever we get the chance, party or no party.
We talk about "Special Snuggles".
We wear t-shirts with slogans such as 'I beat anorexia' to parent consultations, and we generally enjoy ourselves!

Bobby's current catchphrase is, "I'm SO going to take you on Jeremy Kyle..."

We had an outing to Lyme Regis last year with a very good friend of ours and his small person. The kids were all pretty relaxed, safe in the knowledge that, as it was fairly chilly, the beach was pretty much deserted and there was little chance of bumping into anyone they knew. Oh how wrong they were!

"Oh look!" whispers Peter, pointing subtly, "There's Miss Carter from school."
Hubby and I exchanged a swift glance before yelling, "MISS CARTER!!!" and diving behind the wall. Miss Carter turned and waved in a friendly way.
Peter and Bobby were not amused.
"Why would you do that, why why?? I'm SO going to take you on Jeremy Kyle..."

The most embarrassing thing though is that all their friends think we're actually pretty cool... Now that IS a crime!

Today: Dressing up dare to parents of teens
Hubby and I have Smurf costumes (long story) and love dressing up in them of an evening, blue faces and all. We've never got round to it, but here is the dare for anyone brave enough:
Dress up as a Smurf, go to a cinema where they are showing the Smurf movie, and when you get to the front of the queue, put your money on the counter and say,
"Two for 'Harry Potter' please."
Go on- DARE YOU!

Mama Jax

Thursday, 3 November 2011

How to survive your gene pool: My Dad

I confess it now- I'm a daddy's girl! To me, there is no-one else in the world who comes even close. Even with the socks and sandals.

My dad, as well as being a master joker (see 'How to teach your kids to have a questioning mind'), is also the King of conspiracy theories. I don't mean the obvious ones, like 'Who is Prince Harry's dad?' or 'Elvis is alive and working in the chip shop'. Oh no, my dad's theories are much cleverer. In fact I'm surprised he hasn't been head hunted for MI5. Or maybe he has and he's just not been allowed to say...

My personal favourite of all his theories involves the Queen Mother. Cast your mind back to August/September 1997 when the media-created 'People's Princess' was tragically killed in Paris. There are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding this 'accident', but none quite so plausible as my dad's.

My dad's theory is that the Queen Mother, by this time old and poorly, actually died at the same time or shortly after Diana. The royal family, knowing that their matriarch's death would be overshadowed by the media frenzy surrounding Diana's death, decided to keep the news to themselves until the hysteria had died down and Britain's upper lip was stiff once more. They estimated, erroneously, that this would take about 5 years.

With this end in mind, they hired Dame Thora Hird on a 5 year contract to pose as the Queen Mum's stunt double. You may scoff, but from that moment on YOU NEVER SAW THE TWO OF THEM TOGETHER! Co-incidence? I think not...

By 2002, after 5 years of playing the Queen Mother, Dame Thora's contract had come to an end. Her Majesty the Queen, aware that the furor over Diana had NOT died down, tried to engage Dame Thora in a further 5 year contract, but Dame Thora refused, forcing the royal family to announce the 'death' of the Queen Mum earlier than they would have wished. The announcement drew a respectable amount of media tributes, but nothing like the glory the Queen wished for her adored mother. This, obviously, annoyed the royals and wheels were set in motion.
Dame Thora died of a 'stroke' exactly a year after the announcement...

So, surviving my gene pool? Are you kidding?? With that amount of brilliance swimming around in it, I'm grabbing my tankini and jumping in!

Today: A Marilyn moment
"While tearing off a game off golf
I may make a play for the caddy
But when I do, I don't follow through
Cause my heart belongs to Daddy" x

Mama Jax

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

How to deal with the death of a pet

The thing about having several children is that you invariably end up with lots of pets. At our busiest we had 7 dogs (2, plus 5 puppies), 2 bunnies, 3 cats and 3 chickens. We are now down to 1 dog, 3 cats and a bunny, with 2 guinea pigs on order.

One of the consequences of having so many pets is that sooner or later one of them will die and you will have a distraught child on your hands. Phyllis went through a hamster phase. Her first hamster was lovely, really tame and friendly, but when that one "shed it's coat" she had a horrible vicious thing which bit everyone with its tiny hamster fangs. But like Emily with Bagpuss, Phyllis loved it. When it died, I asked hubby to go and get another one (only £5- bargain!) and tell her once again that it had "shed its coat." Hubby however thought she should be told the truth, as dealing with death is part of life.

That evening I heard the whole story of what had happened...
Hubby had broken the news to Phyllis that Demon Hamster had gone to the great hamster wheel in the sky*
Phyllis was adamant it was just asleep in its house, so to prove that Demon Hamster was in fact dead, hubby shook the hamster house and out thudded a very dead hamster onto the floor in front of Phyllis. Phyllis screamed hysterically and refused to be comforted.

By the time I got home from work, a red-eyed yet much cheerier Phyllis bounded into my arms and excitedly cried, "Mummy, my hamster's dead. It's sad but guess what... DADDY'S BUYING ME A KITTEN!!!" And not just any kitten, oh no. A £50 rescue kitten. £45 more than a new hamster.

So the moral of today's tale? All pets shed their skin from time to time, children. It may make them look different, but they're still the same £5 pet you know and love...

*Code for "It's burning on Beelzebub's barbecue as we speak"

Today: Where does milk come from?
Teaching my kids where food comes from...
Me: What do we get from cows, Phyllis?
Phyllis: Burgers, roast beef and milk.
Me: And what do we get from pigs?
Phyllis (thinks): Pink milk!

Mama Jax