Thursday, September 30, 2010


When I am a parent I will not:
Write down every single day from birth to six months (and longer) exactly what time my child slept, fed, and filled his nappy, carrying a notebook round for the purpose, and pondering spreadsheets were I more computer literate.
Blame my houseguests for waking the baby, half an hour after they go to the loo, and thence causing him to cry for 90 minutes.
Tell my friends that "all children who go to nursery hit other children, and I don't want my child getting attached to a childminder instead of me, I heard Oliver James say it on the radio so it must be right."

Nor will I:
Keep the two-year-old up when we have dinner guests, not just until dinner is served at 8 (admittedly only half an hour after the dinner guests arrived) but until he starts to rub his eyes at 10.15 pm, requiring the dinner guests who have to leave at 10.30 to play with toy trains for the evening, and to be very careful with crystal wine glasses and hot drinks, rather than having adult conversation.

Nor indeed will I:
Keep the four-year-old and the six-year-old up until 11pm, claiming that there is no evidence children need more sleep than adults. Or shout at the six-year-old's aunt (who researches children's language for a living, but that's not a proper science) for using letter sounds rather than letter names when reading to her, but then when she cannot learn to read, request Jolly Phonics as a gift.

And finally I will not:
Assume my child's Brownie leader is psychic and able to intuit whether their child wants to come back to meetings in the new school year, without any replies to texts, emails, phone calls or letters.

Of course you know I'll do all those irritating things, and more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I don't normally do this..

OK, I do some lazy posting by picking nice posts from other people, but this is a great bit of news:

Florida lifts ban on gay people adopting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How really very nice

Another pick of the week - I'm reading this story in installments, and feel really happy that Fernando and Robbie have had A Good Day.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

How I got here from there

It's feast or famine around here, I'm afraid.

When I was a young adult, I mixed with the wrong sort of people. People who told me that it was wrong to be gay, that it wasn't what God wanted, and that something had gone wrong in the world for there to be people who were attracted to those of the same gender.

I hope I'm accurately reporting my feelings at the time in saying I never quite bought it. I am pretty sure I only realised I knew gay people when I got to university, but generally thought it was "okay" so long as the "rules" were being followed. There's a certain school of thought that if you think everyone should be celibate outside marriage, this applies to those who cannot get married (to someone of the opposite sex) too - like some who choose or are called to be celibate as a vocation.

I now realise that this was a lot to do with sour grapes. I wasn't in a relationship for many many years (and the ones I had didn't get very far off the ground), but didn't feel "called" to celibacy, so I didn't see why other people shouldn't also be celibate unwillingly. Now I am with Mr. Spouse and if someone turned round and told us we couldn't be together legally - well frankly, sod off. Sod right off.

And we are one of those unnatural couples who cannot reproduce, but long to be parents. So when a furore broke over some Catholic adoption agencies closing down rather than allowing gay couples to sign up, I was pleased that at the time we were considering adopting through the one such agency that encouraged gay couples to apply (our social worker says she is not sure they were really that open, but their literature seems fairly balanced).

But these are relatively "advanced" rights. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a repressive society, yes, it's horrible that it is like that, but you do learn to tread carefully. If you want to educate your daughter, or not wear Islamic dress, or publish anti-Government articles, in some countries you also have to proceed carefully, enlist overseas help, and not make a song and dance about it. So, having lived in a country where it is not legal to be gay, but I have not heard of any prosecutions, and knew friends who had underground boyfriends (if, er, you know what I mean), I assumed it was a case of softly, softly, changee laws.

But it is not just an issue of whether you can kiss your boyfriend in a bar, marry him, or adopt children. It's an issue of people's lives. This documentary has filming in two of the places I've worked in recently, and is really scary. It's the kind of situation where you feel like you need to do something, or hit someone. Preferably someone pretending to be a Christian.

So, by coincidence, we had the chance to hear a talk on the issue at Greenbelt. We only went for the day, which is an odd way to do a festival, and it meant we didn't get into any music, but it's more of a talk and arts festival anyway. And getting the last train back to London - was how I ended up talking to Peter Tatchell on a station at about 10pm last Saturday. Despite appearances in the media, he is very temperate and softly spoken. A real eye-opener.


We've been in London for nearly 4 weeks over the summer and although we have had quite a bit of boring stuff to do with our rental flat to sort out, we've been taking full advantage of the capital. I have a feeling that Mr Spouse has actually seen every single museum in the city. He went to the Clockmaker's Museum the other day. Seriously. I on the other hand have actually had to do some work, but have managed to get out a bit.

Yesterday we went to Oxford (OK, not in London!) to meet up with my mother, brother, and two nieces. Probably by dint of keeping off sticky topics, we had a really good day. We went to a museum that has been newly done up and has lots of great drawers for kids to pull out, things for them to handle etc. The girls are now 4 and 61/2 and were really good all day I thought - the younger one even stopped throwing gravel in the goldfish pond in the Botanic Gardens when I told her to.

My mother regaled me with my brother's latest idea, which is that children don't need any more sleep than adults, which means you can put them to bed at 11pm and they will be fine the next day. Sometimes when my mother moans about my brother (or to my brother) I will sympathise with one or other of them, but I'm staying out of it this time, I muttered something non-committal to my mum, and I suspect my brother won't moan about my mum (this is less frequent but it does happen) because he doesn't when he knows she's right or that I'll agree with her.

Anyway, enough waffle, what I also thought was that I hope we end up with a similar relationship to our child's birth parents to my auntie relationship with the nieces - living in a different country but visiting relatively often, they know me and remember who I am (and happily have done so since they were small) and think of me as a fun relative who will take them out and do fun things, but who they do have to listen to when I am in sole charge. And I give irritating advice which brother and sister-in-law are free to ignore.

OK, back to the original subject. As you may or may not know, Oxford is where I studied as a postgrad, and on the whole had an excellent time (immature male postgrads who share a house with you and bring back ever-younger one-night-stands, notwithstanding), and made some of my best and oldest friends. I used my imagine-yourself-where-you-want-to-be technnique to remember pubs with outdoor space for dinner, and thought of one I spent rather too many hours in - but was slightly embarassed therefore to walk straight past the entrance to the alley the pub is on. In a former life I am sure I could have found my way there in my sleep.

Today unusually rather than me saying "let's go OUT" and Mr. Spouse saying "I'm tired" we reversed roles; he took me to Camden Lock Market which astonishingly I have never been to. Cannot think how that happened. Anyway I bought a clocket, because I am a fashion victim, and tried on two or three winter tunics, and bought one. Mr. Spouse tried, but didn't quite manage, to tell me I was too short and fat to wear one of them. But the one I bought was a lot less fussy.