Friday, 26 April 2013

The Wedding - Part 4 - Keys

The wedding guests were all following each other to the venue. I got into a car with Mum and one of the other bridesmaids. We had to pop back to Mum's first so I could pick up my car keys as I was driving up to the venue myself, mainly because Papa doesn't drive and I had all the children and our clothes, as well as all the champagne, in the car ready to go, I also had lots of presents for the happy couple from various friends and family.

We arrived at Mum's, "Can I have the house keys?" I asked, "I left my keys in the downstairs toilet." (If you remember this was when I was washing my hands after juggling my nephew's snot and tissues.) My Mum looked at me and I saw the colour drain from her face. "I've left the keys with make up lady and told her to put them back through the letter box," she said. "Where is the spare set?" I asked. "On the coffee table where you left them after collecting them from Nanny's on Thursday." Now the colour drained out of my face. "So we have no way of getting into your house?" I said, "And I have no way of getting into my car?... Great."

Luckily the make up lady had securely locked every door and window - hooray!

We didn't know what to do. My Mum's neighbour came out and we agreed that she would get hold of an emergency locksmith and as soon as they had retrieved the keys they could call me and I would come back and pick up the our stuff and the champagne and Mum's keys, if it didn't happen by that day then Papa and I would be spending the weekend in our hired suits. Oh and, more importantly, there would be no champagne!

So we jumped back into the limo and sped off to the venue... Except we didn't speed anywhere as the taxi decided to take a route known only to ramblers. He went down tiny little lanes, he got stuck behind a tractor, he had to do a u turn. Then he suddenly remembered that on the printed directions it clearly said, "Do not follow sat nav - it will not bring you here."It was as we discovered this that we started to get phone calls from various people in various parts of Cheshire who were all following sat nav and were all lost - it was like a Treasure Hunt for people in posh clothes!

Nearly an hour later and we finally arrived - the poor bridesmaid was already now feeling sea sick and my Mum was panicking about what would happen if they had to break into her house. Just as we pulled up I saw my cousin who, being pregnant, would definitely still be driving later. We explained the situation and she offered to run me back to the house as soon as the keys were recovered. Luckily that was pretty soon as I had a text message saying that they keys were out, no windows had to be broken and they were with Mum's neighbour. My cousin and I jumped in the car and made the 25minute (non sat nav) journey back to Mum's house.

My cousin and I had a lovely chat on the way - she drives like a maniac - which was useful in the situation and I'm sure when she needs a new career as a rally driver she will be in hot demand. And her language - goodness me, I learned lots of new swear words. We drove past a lovely looking garden centre and I made the mistake of saying how nice it looked - to which she replied, "Stop that now - you are a parent, you are not retired!" and carried on driving.... An old man in his Toyota pulled out in front of us.. "Oi Yaris" she shouted, "I've two words to say to you, the second one is 'off'.. you can choose the first!"I sat quietly for the rest of the journey...

We got to Mum's and sure enough the keys were out. One of Mum's neighbours has an industrial magnet and he simply put it through the letter box on a string and pulled the keys back out. I don't know anyone else who has an industrial magnet in their garage but thank goodness my Mum's neighbour does!

I jumped into my car and went back to the venue. As I pulled up I realised that everyone was already seated and they were waiting to be fed - but they couldn't start because I wasn't there.... I'm sure that made me very popular - firstly my sister made them wait in the church and now they were waiting to be fed - there was a lot of waiting that day.... and I did a lot of driving!!!!!!!

But we all sat down to a traditional afternoon tea - canapes, sandwiches, sausage rolls, hot buttered crumpets and cream cakes - it all went along with the summer theme. It was lovely and very civilised.

We then got up to do the speeches. I was going first and I can honestly say I was terrified - it really is scary talking in front of so many people, especially when so many of them know you and are quite happy to heckle. But it seemed to go ok - and people laughed in the right places and seemed to enjoy it - I don't think I went on for too long and lots of people afterwards said how much they enjoyed it - although they may have just been too polite to say any different.

My poor brother in law on the other hand was so nervous he could barely speak - but he was lovely and everything he said came from the heart - which is what a good groom's speech should be. I think my sister liked it - although she did keep telling him to 'speak up' - but he's going to have to get used to being bossed around - after all he married her!

The Best Man was rude and funny and everything that best men should be - it was a lovely atmosphere... and in reality he was as nervous as I was - when we compared notes afterwards we realised that we were probably the only people in the room who hadn't had a drink yet (excepting my pregnant cousin of course). Looking back we needn't have worried - even my Uncle kept quiet and didn't heckle - although my Aunt tells me that was because she had her hand tightened around his nether regions and if he looked like he was about to say something she would just give him a little squeeze to remind him of the consequences - I think that is the secret of many a happy marriage - knowing who is in control....

By now we were all ready to party....

The Wedding - Part 3 - The Church

The car pulled up to the church and there were a gaggle of girls eager to help my sister out of the car and sort out her dress etc. A very irate vicar was standing outside looking at his watch and I knew we were in trouble...

Papa ran inside to tell everyone to get ready, As he ran I grabbed him and hissed, 'Buttonhole - I need your buttonhole!" He is such a sweetie, he unpinned his flower (which had been practically stapled to him by my cousin) and pinned it to my jacket just as my sister arrived at my side - the page boys and flowers girl stood in front of us - as planned my two were at the very front where they could do the least harm - although to be honest, once they had seen how many people were in the church they were suddenly very quiet, "Just remember to walk slowly," I advised quietly before we left, 'You'll be fine."

I went to take my sister's arm as we had practised and she whispered, "I'll have to hold onto you, I'm terrified I'll fall over my dress but if I hang onto you then you can catch me if I topple over."I hooked my arm through hers as she held the dress up slightly with her left hand and we took our place at the church door.

My nephew and the flower girl were ready, my sister took a deep breath as the wedding march played and we began our walk towards the aisle. We walked towards the main aisle across from the church door and the children took the turning to the right to walk through the congregation. Unfortunately my nephew and flower girl turned left (they obviously thought they were on an aeroplane) and my sister and I rushed forwards to grab them and put them back on the right track - it was a lovely way to enter the church, the congregation laughed, my sister laughed, everyone just seemed to relax - I guess the 20minute wait for the bride had been quite stressful and this was a fantastic way to bring fun and laughter back into the church.

The walk itself was lovely, so many smiling faces, people congratulating my sister as she walked, the words 'beautiful' and 'stunning' were heard many times across the church (I was grateful for their comments but felt they should really have been looking at my sister) - she was positively beaming - It was then that I noticed that she hadn't pulled her veil over her face, but I don't think it really mattered, it was only when we stopped and I moved in next to Mum that it was noticed - mainly because the bridesmaid whose job it was to straight my sister's veil stepped forward and then realising she had nothing to do tried to make it look as though it was perfectly normal to step in front of the bride and re-adjusted her hair... which looked perfectly natural, so was a good save.

The children sat behind us and were joined by Papa - they were so pleased with themselves. We stood for the first hymn. I say stood I was kind of standing at a strange angle as my Mum's hat was so huge (I think she could have received signals from outer space using it) that it kept hitting me in the face every time she moved her head. I looked at my sister and felt yet another tear coming on - I can honestly say I have never seen her look so happy.

We sang the first hymn, I think it was 'Lord of all Hopefulness', I say think because (and I hope I wont get into trouble here), but the bridesmaid on my left really couldn't sing. She told me later that she didn't really know the tune either but (please don't hate me) it was so bad and so off key that I started to giggle and then I couldn't sing. I tried to turn it into a cough but it just got worse, so I opted for tears instead, which was ok as I was actually wiping tears from my eyes, just tears of laughter. She is such a lovely lady and what she lacked in talent she certainly made up for in enthusiasm and in the end I recomposed myself and the two of us belted out the tunes as loudly and as coherently as we could.

I don't know if it was just me but the rest of the wedding seemed to go by in a blur - it wasn't helped by the fact that the vicar (who is a family friend) was now rushing slightly and even skipped his sermon - which may have been a blessing, who knows.

The service over we went to the back of the church to witness the signing of the register and all lined up ready to process back. That was no mean feat as there were about 20 of us in this tiny space trying to arrange ourselves into some sort of order, all I could remember was that I was bringing up the rear and accompanying the groom's mother. We walked through the church to a huge round of applause - again, I was pleased to be there, they really didn't need to clap but if I could bring just a little sunshine to their day I was happy to do so. We went outside, I looked to see if I could see the vicar to thank him but I think he had nipped out the back and was speeding away in his Ford Mondeo to his next wedding.

The children and I met up again outside the church. "Can we get messy now?" TJ asked. "No, you cannot," I snapped, "We have all the photos to do - loads of photos." "Photo's are boring!" exclaimed TJ. "Well, get used to it," I replied, "Because from now on the whole rest of the day will be about photos!" The man behind me laughed and TJ looked glum. But then all the children were given confetti and soon cheered up. Although we did have to point out that they were only supposed to throw confetti over the bride and groom - not over each other and anyone else who happened to be standing near!

More photos were taken and then everyone got into their cars to follow the bride and groom to the venue for the afternoon reception....

And it was then that the fun started....

The Wedding - Part 2

So the morning came for the big day itself - Prince William and Kate had nothing on the level of organisation...

We got up in the hotel and went down for breakfast - the wedding wasn't until 1pm and the photographer was coming to the hotel to take pictures of the groom, groomsmen, page boys etc at around midday - so my theory was that the longer we kept TJ out of his formal suits the better -  I would have preferred to change them in the car on the way to the church, but they were required for the pre-wedding photos so that wasn't going to happen.

After breakfast Papa and I went to get changed. The suits were all rental, as most wedding suits are, and we had tried ours on back in February and I knew that I had lost quite a bit of weight since then, so I was a bit worried that my suit would no longer fit - I had even bought a new belt, just in case. I needn't have worried, I got the suit out of the bag marked with my name and put it on. The waist was so tight, I could barely sit down and the waistcoat fitted like a corset - I couldn't even breathe, to say I was gutted was an understatement - 6 weeks of low carbs and no alcohol to actually put weight on. Papa was also having problems, he had to tighten his trousers and his waistcoat needed pinning at the back. 'They've given us the wrong suits!' I shouted, now getting angry. I called the groom, "Have you got our suits with you?" I asked, "No, I gave them to you last night," he replied, 'How drunk were you?" Admittedly I had drunk quite a bit the day before but was pretty sure I had collected the right suits. I checked again, yes the bags definitely had our names on them. I looked at Papa, "I'll have to go to Manchester and change them," I said, "I can't walk my sister down the aisle wearing this." Papa went online to see if there was a branch of the store nearby as I got the children dressed. As I did up TJ's waistcoat it suddenly hit me... "Papa," I said, "try my waistcoat on." He grumpily got off the computer and did so, "It fits perfectly," he said. I took my trousers off and handed them to him, "Lets swap suits." The upshot was that the suits had been labeled the wrong way round, which looking back seems obvious, but when you are juggling your own dress requirements with your kids then you tend to lose all grip on reality....

Properly dressed we went downstairs to get our buttonholes. But there was no buttonhole for me - I was walking my sister down the aisle without a buttonhole. "It's at the house," the Groom's father informed me, "It must have been put with the bridal party." It really wasn't a big issue except the photographer kept asking me to stand behind other members of the party to hide the fact that my buttonhole was missing. So I have a horrible feeling that when the photos come out you will only see my left ear in all the shots.. we shall see... but the TJ met up again with his cousin and the two of them were having a whale of a time. The atmosphere was light and relaxed - and, to cap it all, it was a beautiful sunny day!

After the photographer had finished I rounded up the page boys and headed off to Granny's house to join the bridal party leaving Papa and the grooms party to head off to the church....

I arrived at Granny's house with the very excited boys, suddenly there was a commotion in the back, "Uncle," came a small voice, "I think I need help."I looked in the mirror to see my nephew with the largest amount of snot I have ever seen in a child pouring out of his nose, I didn't have a tissue to hand and it was about to fall onto his new suit. I did what any parent would do, I put my hand out and caught the snot as it fell. Great, now I had to get out of the car making sure that the boys kept clean and that I didn't get my nephew's snot on my own suit. I raced into the house and into the downstairs toilet, and, be sure to take note, here begins the problems - I put my car keys down on the window sill in the toilet as I grabbed for tissues for my nephew and washed my own hands - my own children thought this vision of me juggling snot, keys and tissues was hysterical. I had just finished washing my hands when my nephew turned to me, 'It's happened again,' he said. And sure enough there was another massive globule of snot hanging from his nose - luckily one of the bridesmaids was on hand with a box of kleenex to help us both out...

I washed up again and went into the living room which was abuzz with make up girls, bridesmaids and photographers. I saw my Mum, "Where's your buttonhole?" she cried, "You should be wearing a buttonhole - you can't walk your sister down the aisle like that!" I felt as though I had forgotten my trousers... "Right, let's not panic," I said calmly (calm was to be my word for the day), "I can always take Papa's at the church if needs be - his ushering duties will be over by the time we get there." Problem solved - then I went into the study which my sister was using to get dressed. I opened the door and there she stood in her wedding dress - it was beautiful, she was beautiful - everything was beautiful and, I'm not ashamed to say, I actually welled up. I always wondered why people cried at weddings - now I knew. To say she was stunning is an understatement, her gown was pure silk with a lace overlay and her veil was under a pearl and diamond tiara. I even think she had had a wash...

The boys sat down to watch TV and eat crisps.

We were about to leave when the bridesmaids realised they had to pack all their stuff for the evening, so the taxi driver and I loaded the bridesmaid's mini bus (don't worry the bride had a limo) with all of their luggage - one bridesmaid had just had her baby and the amount of paraphernalia that goes with a new born is phenomenal - but we got it all in - at least we thought we did (again note that for later).

My phone then started to ring, we were now 15 minutes late and the ushers (and I guess the groom) were beginning to panic - the vicar had told us not to be late and it was now 1.15.... we got everyone into the mini bus and Granny, Lea and my nephew headed off in the limo, except TJ who was now best buddies with the photographer and went with her. I helped my sister into the car and got in beside her..

I gave her hand a squeeze, "Happy?" I asked her, 'Really happy," she replied simply, "really happy"... we pulled out of the drive and headed to the church...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Wedding - Part 1

As blog posts are supposed to be short and easy to read I have decided to split my sister's wedding into a couple (maybe three) shorter posts - rather than one long marathon... a lot happened!

We went up to Cheshire - after the cake dropping incident - on Thursday. Luckily, my friend managed to re-ice the top two layers of the cake before we left that evening, the only problem was they had to be laid flat to dry and would have to be stacked at the venue itself. This meant that my entire boot space of the car was taken up by cake and I had to load all of our luggage, presents etc into the front of the car with the boys - luckily, Papa was coming up on the train on Friday night, otherwise there would have been no space! As it was the kids sat with their feet on their cases and no room to move.

We tootled up the motorway network and actually got to my Mum's by 10pm - but she was out with my sister for a 'bridesmaids' get together type thing and I had to get the keys from my Nan. Nan was asleep when I popped in - I was banging on the door for about 10minutes when I thought I would try the handle, sure enough the door was unlocked and I strolled in. Nan woke from the sofa, 'Oh, its you dear,' she said, 'I've been sitting up waiting, I was watching Poirot - I haven't seen this one before.' I looked at the TV screen - I knew it was an old Poirot as David Suchet looked thin, and it was still in the old square TV format. "I think it's been on before Nan,' I said. 'Well, I don't know who did it,' she replied. I wanted to say 'that's because you sleep through every episode' - but I didn't. At least she will always enjoy each show when it comes on - for the first few minutes anyway.

Papa is exactly the same, within five minutes of any crime thriller coming on he is fast asleep - he usually wakes up just as the detective has everyone assembled and is going to share his knowledge. It's at this point that Papa will ask what has happened and then I have to give a run down of each character, their motives and their possible reasons for murdering the 4 people he didn't see die anyway - thank goodness for the pause mode - afterwards Papa always says how much he enjoyed the show - which I know is a big lie!!!!!! He just enjoyed his sleep!

Anyway, we got the keys and let ourselves into Mum's house - we had been allowed access on the proviso that we kept the place tidy and didn't eat or drink anything, we were allowed the little packets of Kelloggs variety packs for breakfast but were not allowed the croissants etc that had been purchased for the morning of the big day itself. ASBO dog had been placed into kennels for the duration and was by now terrorising some other poor hounds at the local pet hotel.

Friday was the day of the rehearsal. We got to the church and sat there with the bridesmaids and ushers, a worried groom and my sister who was happily joking and messing around. The children met their cousin, my brother's son, for the first time and luckily they got on famously. My two then taught their little cousin how to walk rock star style down the aisle (apparently that was how you walked in front of your fans) - Mum chastised them at which point TJ folded his arms and strutted down the aisle with his arms crossed. 'Walk properly,' I said. 'Granny told me to keep my arms down,' he replied sulkily, 'so I am going to walk like this.' Previously, my two had decided that when they walked behind their aunt they would lift up her skirt to 'show everyone her knickers' - lucky for us all my sister had chosen to let the children walk in front of her so as to minimise any temptation. Good choice!

Anyway, we left a relaxed rehearsal with the jolly vicars' cry of 'Don't be late - I have another wedding at 2pm' ringing in our ears and we all headed off to the pub and the hotel where myself, Papa and the kids would be staying with the other groomsmen etc.

I went to get Papa from the station and we met everyone back at the hotel for the pre-wedding dinner.

So far.... so good... but the next day was the big day itself...

Friday, 19 April 2013

The big day is nearly here......

Yes, after all the planning and preparation, the day of my sisters wedding is nearly upon us and the boys are getting ready for their day in the sun (hopefully) as pageboys.

The boys were both getting a little anxious, especially TJ. I sat down with him yesterday before we left and asked him what was on his mind as he was unusually quiet... Quiet always worries me... "I've been to a wedding before," he said, "what will this one be like?" So I explained about the church and what page boys do... He thought about this and then said, "but will there be a party afterwards? It's the party bit I don't want to go to."

It was as if a light bulb went off, and tied in with something Papa had said earlier in the week about being wary of the boys behaviour on the day itself. The last wedding TJ went to was that of his birth mother and step father. By then the children were already in care and they were accompanied to the event by their social worker. Unfortunately, there was a huge fight between the 'families' at the party and the police were called and the boys had to be hurried out of a back door. TJ has memories of this, mainly as there is a lovely picture of them with their birth family in their life story books... Obviously taken prior to the consumption of cheap alcohol!

So TJ was reassured and we practiced 'walking down the aisle'. TJ seems to have the idea of a page boy confused with that of a rock star... He strutted down the aisle giving 'victory v' signs to his 'fans' and then asked if it would be okay if he 'gave high 5's to those sitting on the aisle." After I stopped laughing I told him he had better check with his aunt on that one....

So yesterday we came up to Grannies in the car. I had to collect the wedding cake which has been lovingly made by myself and Papa and iced by a good friend (I didn't want to take the risk on icing it myself).. I had a shock in the morning when our friend called me and told me that the cake had toppled over... We went into major panic mode... This type of thing only happens in sitcoms... The cake was being transported back to our friends shop by her husband, he took a corner too sharply and the top layers slid off, luckily they were in a box, but the icing was damaged. Major panic, could we delay going up to my Mum's?What was the latest we could leave? But my friend then surveyed the damage herself and, after telling me that her husband had 'dramatised' the event, came back from London especially to re-ice the cake. It was then left to set in my car and we will have to assemble it at the venue... Luckily, Granny is free so she is coming to help... Phew!

Well it wouldn't be a wedding without a little drama, lets hope that is all the drama we get this time.... I don't think my heart will take anymore!!

I probably won't get time to blog again until Monday... Hopefully we will have lots of positive things to say and the children will behave themselves and not 'lift aunties dress to show everyone her knickers' (thank goodness we talked her hubbie to be out of wearing a kilt!).

I'm off to practise my speech now... Did I mention I was walking my sis down the aisle?... And giving the speech! As an actor I have performed in front of thousands, I have presented alongside royalty and sung for the Queen and Presidents... But speaking in front of my family... That terrifies me!!!

Monday, 15 April 2013

School is upon us!

Thank goodness, the kids go back to school tomorrow... I can breathe again...

Oddly enough, when I told them about this the children seemed to have completely forgotten that school would be re-opening after the Easter break.

I wouldn't mind but at one point I was actually having a stand up row with my seven year old both shouting at each other regarding the fact that he would be returning to school tomorrow.
At one point I thought pantomime season had come early as I stood there shouting, "You are going back I school!" "Oh no I'm not!" Came the reply... "Oh yes you are!" I shouted back....

LKC has been so mean to his little brother today. I can only assume its due to the holidays coming to a close... After playing in the garden all day (it's finally sunny) I told the children to stop playing their computer games and tidy up their toys on the lawn. KC came down and dutifully put his toys away. "Where's TJ" I asked. "He said he wasn't coming," said KC, " he wants to keep playing the wii." "Fair enough," I said, "in that case when you have finished in the garden KC you can go back and play the wii while I have a chat with your brother."

KC cleared up in record time and shot back up the stairs to the playroom.

I came up a bit later to see only KC playing... I then heard crying coming from TJs room. I went in to find him sitting on the floor in his pyjamas bawling his eyes out. "What happened?" I asked, "and why are you in your pyjamas?" He looked at me tearfully and said, "I didn't hear what you said when you shouted at us to come down and KC said you told me to go to bed... So I did... But then I didn't put my toys away so now I'm not allowed to play on the Wii either."

So KC had fooled me and his brother and now had the Wii all to himself. He was happily playing the game while singing along. I soon put a stop to that... "Come on young lman, time for bed." "But it's still light outside," he said. "It's a school day tomorrow," I told him, "back to normal bedtimes now!"

KC stopped singing and looked at me... "No, I'm not going!" he shouted... Great, back to square one!... "Oh yes you are....."

Friday, 12 April 2013

Mini Performance

Today was Lea's performance at her drama group. The culmination of a three day workshop and Lea had the lead! Yes, my eldest child was playing the role of the naughtiest boy in the class (Lea always plays a boy as regular readers know), a boy who didn't listen to grown ups, was rude to his friends and only liked to eat and sleep... Typecasting really!

After TJ's running critique at last year's show (see The Performance) I briefed him in the car to sit still and not speak until after the show. I was so busy explaining why the rest of the audience might not appreciate his opinion that we were nearly late. Luckily, the impossibly cheerful drama teacher came out and made sure we were seated before they began.

TJ dutifully sat very still huddled up to me watching his older sister/brother perform. Lea was, as usual, amazing. She captured every nuance of his character, she embodied the role and allowed the character room to develop. Apart from the time that she looked over at me and winked! But I shall overlook that, it was probably in character and anyway she was superb and one day she had better live my dream for me!

At the end the audience gave a huge round of applause... Apparently there were other children involved in the performance, they were obviously there to make my Lea look good. TJ didn't clap. I leaned over, "it's ok," I told him, 'you can clap now.'
'I don't want to,' Came the reply, 'I only want to clap for Lea and I shall do that in the car.'
At least he was sparing the other members of the group his disdain... So I guess that's a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Discipline - part 2!


I hate holidays!

Well, that's not entirely true. I love beaches and nice hotels and good looking staff who come and spritz your face with evian while getting you your favourite tipple and the only problem is what to order for dinner  - those sorts of holidays I love.. school holidays spent at home are a nightmare - especially after the first week or so!

Today it is TJ's turn to require the firm hand.

To be honest, he has been lovely all morning. Lea had a drama workshop for three days and whilst Lea is out TJ tends to be a lovely angel of a child - today he did all his homework (yes, at 7 he gets Easter homework, Mr Gove would be happy) and learned his 2, 5 and 10 times tables - he even asked me to test him. As a reward he got to play on the wii for an hour.

There was an ulterior motive on my part, as TJ played quietly in the play room I could get on with writing the speech I am giving at my sister's wedding next week. But all was ok. I wrote the first draft, TJ had fun and then we went and collected Lea from her drama group before coming home for lunch and then taking the dog for a walk along the river... all good... until we came back and I went into the playroom to discover that whilst playing his game TJ had also been quietly unravelling the rug.... bits of wool were everywhere...

He is younger than Lea and has his own learning difficulties, so I do tend to be a little more patient with him. 'What happened here?' I asked him...

He was silent... I looked in the doorway where Lea was eagerly waiting to see her brother get punished (don't you just love sibling rivalry). 'Go and find something to do,' I told her. "I'm ok watching." came the smart Alec reply. I put on my stern voice, 'Now!' I said and off she dutifully went. Although I knew she was listening around the corner.

Turning back to TJ I said, 'Ok, tell me what happened here....'

And now the fun begins. Story after story came out of the little mouth. 'It did it all by itself when we went for a walk." 'I think one of the DVD's got caught in it." "It got a bit unpicked and then fell apart - it is old."

I listened patiently and then became all Captain Von Trapp with the strawberries that turned blue... 'Maybe, ' I said, "Maybe, you were sitting there doing nothing at all when suddenly the rug started to unravel and the dog came in and she started to pull at the string and then the dog saw the fun game on the TV and got excited and pulled even more...and my rug then fell apart?"

I could see TJ's brain processing this. "Yes,' he finally said, "Yes, I think that is what happened."

'Well, in that case," I replied, now fully in role, "We had better stop playing exciting computer games in case you or the dog get over excited again. I think now we should only do quiet things in the playroom like reading or stamp collecting." (I don't know where the latter came from.)

TJ immediately started to cry - practically on cue and much more realistic than snotty little Gretle in the movie. 'Ok,' I said calmly, 'You have 10 seconds to tell me the truth or you will be in big trouble."

To be honest its an old rug and I'm not overly concerned but the point is that I was being blatantly lied to. Unfortunately the lies continued, 'The corner of the rug came undone by itself." 'Perhaps my guinea pig got out" and my personal favourite, 'Maybe we have a ghost."

So now TJ is sitting behind me on the bed having a 'time in' whilst I write my blog and he thinks about what he has done... What child ever truly 'thinks about what they have done'?


But now I have finally had the truth out of him. 'Yes, I did it Daddy,' he said, 'I just started to pull and then it just kept on coming and splitting up.'

'Thank you for telling me the truth, now what should your consequence be - as well as no more ii for the rest of today?" I then went onto explain that his consequence was actually for the lying, the no wii is for the rug... He thought about it, "I think I shall help with dinner and help you wash up." he said. Their therapist would be thrilled - they are suggesting their own reparation, where they have to do something good to make up for the damage they have done.

Of course, he may just be playing the game in order to watch Spiderman on tv - but to be honest I don't care - I think its a step in the right direction.....

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Such an emotive issue.... everyone seems to have lots of advice... and the amount of people who say 'well, I was smacked as child and it never did me any harm etc etc etc...' as they twitch uncontrollably or flinch at the slightest door slam... I'm not looking for answers here - just off loading...

Papa always reminds the children that his father had a cane - not that it was ever used, but he doesn't tell the kids that bit - they just look at Grandpa with both fear and awe - admittedly it does automatically give him a certain respect in their eyes although I'm not sure what would happen if we actually saw this 'cane' or if it is just a figment of Papa's imagination.

Although the cane is still widely used in Singapore schools (the very schools Mr Gove thinks we should be emulating) - when I first arrived as a teacher there I was stunned to see a line of little boys being lined up in their primary school assembly to have their legs whipped with a huge cane brandished by the discipline master. (I'm sure Mr Gove wasn't shown that as he toured some of the most expensive schools in Singapore) It wasn't my place to comment of course, but the lady I was working with cried all morning. Again, I can't really comment on the whys and wherefores as, to be honest, one of the things that makes Singapore such a great country to live and work in, and visit is the respect for authority that must have been instilled at a very young age - after all, how many tourists come back raving about how clean it is and how polite everyone is - those things don't just happen overnight. Then we look at our own streets and moan about the dirtiness , the graffiti, the groups of teenagers with nothing better to do you can see where the comparisons can lead you - at least in Singapore the teenagers are studying like mad to get their expected results. I'm sure many of my Singapore friends will be able to add their stories and experiences, so, as I say, I'm not making any judgements here. But it does highlight the differences in discipline that Papa and I both have.

I'm not saying for an instant that Papa would cane the children - he hasn't got it in him, under all that bluster he is a big softie... but today.. today I could quite happily have led TJ to the discipline master myself!!!!!!!!!

I have always promised that I would never smack the children but would reason with them and explain exactly why what they were doing was wrong.. I hear loads of you falling about laughing as I write that - and to be honest, today I can agree. Obviously, for our kids it is slightly different, where my own parents would have given me a quick smack and sent me to my room (I'm of that generation) we know that for many children who come into care that they were beaten and didn't know when the smacking would stop, they were also locked in their room for days on end, TJ has a habit of eating blutac if you leave him in his room for too long - so that form of discipline would probably send them into a spiral of despair or fear... or something similar. But then what are you left with? We do practise 'time in' where the boys have to sit next to us when they are naughty (or 'make poor choices' as we don't like the 'n' word). This means the boys sit quietly while I do something boring - like write my blog. Hence Lea is currently sitting on the bed behind me staring at the back of my head - I can feel the daggers hurtling into my back from her eyes - as she has been grounded and lost her privileges for today (no TV or computer games).

This form of discipline works well for now - but what happens as they get older? I know that our kids are easily led and will happily stray away with the sorts of children who will lead him into trouble - so where do we go from here?

Today I can see the argument for a short sharp, and probably painful shock, but I don't think that in the long run it will do any good so I step away from it... I just don't know what to replace it with.

What was his crime.?.. She got angry with her brother in the park - so threw her scooter at him... and then in a fit of rage threw the scooter down the hill and then kept picking it up and throwing it further trying to break it. When she realised I was watching she just said, 'Why are you looking at me - it's mine and I'll break it if I want..."I grounded her there and then, unfortunately for her, her best friend (and someone I would like for him to spend more time with) came around the corner and asked if Lea wanted to play - Lea's face lit up, the demon was gone and my little girl was back - but I had already made the punishment (or 'consequence' as we don't like the 'p' word either) and had to stick by my guns - hence a really upset little girl is sitting behind me willing me to explode!

What is gratifying is that she is obviously showing remorse - I would be really concerned if she simply didn't care about the consequences of her actions... hopefully, that will be the saving grace.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Easter Holidays and Illness Do Not Mix....

I have a cold...
TJ has a cold..
And as of this morning, Lea has a cold as well. We are up to our ears (and noses) in snot!

Unfortunately TJ has had the cold for the entire week - and being asthmatic it tends to go straight to his chest which means he spends much of the night lying awake and coughing - and if TJ is awake then so are we!

Papa has been great this weekend though - he looked after TJ for most of the night on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning he sent me back to bed whilst he got on with being the parent in charge. I even got a coffee in bed although I was summonsed to prepare lunch - which is a good job otherwise our Sunday roast would probably have been take out pizza... I am not a fan of giving the children junk food, although it would probably have been a popular choice as there would have been little or no chance of brussels sprouts appearing on the plate.

But this morning Papa had to return to work as normal - although I imagine he was glad of the rest. However, Lea decided to fill Papa's shoes and bring me a cup of tea. It was very sweet of her but then I remembered that she is not allowed to use the kettle, so I prepared to get angry with her. 'It's ok, Daddy,' she said, pre-empting my rage,' I didn't use the kettle I just waited until the tap got really hot and used that water.' I smiled benevolently and sipped the lukewarm dishwater masquerading as tea... 'delicious,' I smiled as I sipped the tepid pale brew. She stood smiling at me watching me drink it for what seemed like an eternity before she left the room and I could tip it away.

The holiday is now dragging - the British weather doesn't help. We went for a walk - just to get out of the house and TJ had barely taken four steps before declaring that it was too cold to be outside and that we should get our exercise courtesy of the wii in the comfort of the playroom. TJ loves the wii... especially the football games.. although he has to win and if he doesn't then tears follow - we have a box of tissues on standby ned to the console just in case.

Oh well, I am killing time while parenting the best way I can when I am under the weather. One child is in front of the TV the other is on the... yes, you've guessed it... the wii!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Easter Holidays and an April Fool

Well, Easter at Granny's went without any real problems. The children were as good as gold. We even took them to the local church for the Easter service. It was the same vicar that baptised the kids last year so TJ was a little concerned that he was going to have his 'hair washed' again. However, he soon got a little excited when we told him we were going to be singing in church. 'I hope we sing Lord of the Dance," he said, 'Or Give Me Oil in My Lamp, I know those two." He wasn't too happy when Granny explained that the vicar probably didn't take requests. I, on the other hand hand, spent much of the service concerned that TJ was going to stand up at any point and either give his critique or demand his request is sung.

The rest of the long weekend was lovely, even my mother's ASBO dog behaved herself, most of the time - the children ate far too much chocolate, which was to be expected. But we were able to use the chocolate as a bribe for anything - vegetables that needed to be eaten, chores that needed doing - I love Easter!

Easter Monday was a Bank Holiday here in the UK, it was also April Fool's Day - I love April Fool's Day - but all my friends are now wise to my tricks - Papa even has an alarm in his iphone that warns him that the day is approaching. That's because one year, early in our relationship, I put all the clocks forward three hours in the house and when the alarm went off at his usual time of '6am' Papa quickly got up in a bleary state muttering about how ridiculous it was to be up so early in the dark and how he felt like he hadn't slept a wink. I waited until he was in the shower before I shouted out 'April Fool! and told him it was in fact only 3am! He wasn't best pleased.

Or my friend back in Singapore - where as actors we had clothing sponsors - usually Guess or Top Man (such glamour) well, I called my friend and told him he had to get down to the main Hugo Boss store before 12 as they were to be our new sponsors and he had to choose the clothes he required for the next photo shoot. I was in hysterics when he called me from the store saying that he had selected his clothes and gone to the counter with them - but they had tried to charge him and no-one knew about the 'sponsorship deal.'

Another friend got a text from me asking when I could buy tickets to her 'one night only' concert in Singapore, I told her I had seen the full page ad in the Straits Times that morning - she got such a shock that she ran down to the local store in her dressing gown to buy a copy of the paper. she called me back to ask where the advertisement was - I directed her to a page and told her to look at the date... I howled... so did she, although hers was in anger... Actors are so easy to fool, especially if they think it is about them!!!!!

My favourite though was when I prank called a female friend and told her I was a DJ from a London radio station and if she knew 'The phrase that pays' before I called back she could win £1000. She spent the next five minutes running round her house waking her flatmates up to see if anyone listened to this station and if they knew the phrase before I called back again at 7am. I wasn't welcome in that house for a long time!

This year I have two new 'suckers' - my kids! They spent nearly an hour in Granny's back garden looking for the Easter Monday 'surprise golden egg' that Granny had hidden out there. When I finally shouted out 'April Fool' CJ looked at me in complete disgust and slammed his way back into the house.TJ simply stared at me and said, 'Very funny.. now where have you hidden that egg?" I don't think he has quite got the concept of a practical joke yet....