Sunday, 30 June 2013

Summer Holidays are looming..................

The end of this week heralds the end of the school year here in France.   It is, therefore, the start of two months of purgatory for all parents who have to juggle work and family commitments.   My children range in age from nearly seventeen (emotional age of eight depending on whether he is getting his own way!!) via twins of nearly fourteen (I may as well have triplets!!) to a five year old who thinks she is fifteen!   I can't win and believe me everyday is a battle royal to keep them all on track.

Peace will reign supreme in my house if;

  1. Oscar, my eldest is allowed to stay in his room all day, with full Internet access and a regular supply of tea!  
  2. I am on hand 24/7 to play with my five year old daughter.
  3. I have a bottomless purse with which to pay for countless trips to the cinema, museums, bowling etc... not to mention a limitless fuel tank for driving around Manche.

Unfortunately, for my children, we do not live in such utopia, I work from home and am not fortunate enough to be able to take two months off, I am neither wealthy enough to be able to fund limitless trips (if I was you would find me well ensconced at a very nice Thalasso therapy hotel not too far from here!!) nor inclined to let my eldest vegetate in his pit.   My little girl needs to know that she has a working mum and that I can't be on hand all the time to play.

That said, I will need to compromise on my work/family time to enable my kids to have some fun during the holidays.    When I was their age a bike and a picnic were all I needed, I spent all day out with friends (no mobile phones or computer games in those days!) we played in the woods and fields and if it rained watched old black & white movies on the TV and there were just four channels in those days (and yes I do remember when there were only three!). 

Luckily for us we are close to the beach, so weather permitting, we will be rock pooling and swimming in the sea.   I am sure I will find the Internet a source of invaluable information on how to keep them all entertained.   Failing that I will lock myself in my room with enough rations to last two months and wait out the siege!!!   In reality I will have to implement various methods to keep my sanity intact and their boredom in check.   Watch this space to read what draconian measures (in their eyes!) I have taken to ensure peace in our time!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Who is your Favourite Child?

My reply would have to be "None of your business".   I don't have a favourite child out of my four, whoever is behaving the best and giving me less grief is my favourite and believe me that changes on a minute by minute basis!   I am sure they meet daily, unbeknown to me, to decide on ways to push the boundaries and take me to the edge of hysteria each day.   But that said, I LOVE them all equally, I may not LIKE them all equally, but that is a completely different kettle of fish!!

Unfortunately Buzz Bishop from Vancouver Canada, when blogging about his children expressed his preference for his eldest son over his youngest, this has caused a great deal of consternation and loads of comments, mostly condemning him for his declaration.

Whilst I understand his point of view, some things are best left unsaid/unwritten.   Have a favourite child if you wish, but it is your responsibility as a parent to ensure all your children are treated equally.   Mine are always saying "so and so is your favourite" I just agree with them, nipping it in the bud, there is no point arguing with them, in their heads they are always right.   The next day the "so called" favourite will have overstepped the mark and after being told off will claim that his/her sibling is my favourite.   Damned if you do/Damned if you don't!

When they have all grown up and fled the nest I am applying for a peacekeeping job at the United Nations, I think by then I will have the well-honed skills of a diplomat trying to get warring factions to agree to a compromise!!!

My children are on loan to me, it is my job to bring them up to be compassionate, considerate and well-balanced adults, sometimes this entails having to enforce draconian measures (have you ever tried to confiscate a teenagers' Ipod?!!) but I am their Mum not their friend.   They have loads of friends now and will have in the future.   When they are adults out in the big wide scary world, I hope they will look back and acknowledge, if only to themselves, that I have done the best I could and then, maybe, I will be lucky enough to be counted as one of their friends, but until then I will have to come up with more hiding places for the confiscated electronic equipment!!!!!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Girl Crushes

Great word!!!.......Girl Crush..... feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl. a nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level. (Urban Dictionary April 2007)

I wonder whether ones list of "girl crushes" reflects in some way upon the "crusher" (bear with!!!)   My list is soooo eclectic I think a psychologist would have a field day!!   Who are your girl crushes?  Mine are;

Christine Lagarde - Head of the IMF- multi-lingual, beautiful and elegant.

Karen Brady - a business woman in every sense of the word, gutsy, clever and chic in an understated "take me seriously because it's me not the clothes" kind of way.   In every episode of The Apprentice she outshines the female contestants, why they don't use her as a role model (both fashion and behaviour wise) I'll never know!

Nancy Meyers - writer and director and all round fabulous woman.

Miranda Hart -sooo funny and intelligent and happy in her own skin, and she loves Strictly!!! enough said! - I want to be her!!!

Meryl Streep - beautiful, intelligent, talented and a sense of humour.

Sandra Bullock - she has achieved so much, she is a powerful, proud, tenacious and funny lady.

Amanda de Cadenet - what can I say?   I wanted to scratch her eyes out in the late 80's/early 90's -John Taylor was mine goddamit (in my head anyway!!) then to add insult to injury she started dating Keanu Reeves!! (my venom knew no bounds when I heard this!!)   Now, with maturity and reduced personal expectations, I can look at what she has done for herself and the journey she has made and can only marvel at what a strong women she is.   Her women-only chat show, The Conversation, is inspirational and a must see for any woman trying to gain control of her life.

So there is my list, any Psychoanalysts out there make of it what you will!!!


Thursday, 13 June 2013

D-Day Commemorations 2013

It has been a pretty emotional week here in the heart of Normandy.   Another anniversary commemorating the sacrifices made by so many allied soldiers on the beaches and in the fields of Normandy.   As usual the local towns and villages paid homage to the soldiers killed and injured to free France, and ultimately the whole of Europe, from Nazi terror.

I took the kids out of school and on 6th June and we went and paid our respects to the fallen at the military cemetery in Bayeux, a truly moving occasion and a sobering one, for each year the number of veterans who come over gets fewer.    I sincerely hope that their sacrifices will never be forgotten, I for one won't forget, but one does wonder whether their endeavours will be commemorated once they have all left this mortal coil.

Our local mayor wrote an article in our village magazine at the beginning of this year, it was about a young RAAF airman, whose plane was shot down and crashed in a neighbouring village.   He was rescued by a local family and then brought to our village where a platoon of the 507th P.I.R. had dropped.   Traditionally RAF personnel were expected to get back to Blighty by any means possible, but this brave young man stayed with the 507th and fought to defend our village against an SS Division stationed in a neighbouring village.   He died on 11th June 1944 aged 21.   This was news to us, his name does not appear on the memorial plaque in the church, it is thanks to Mr Small, our mayor that his heroic story has come to light.

We have since investigated his story, and located his grave and that of his comrades who perished with the plane.   We had every intention of going to Bayeux this year, but the need to recognise this young man's sacrifice and heroism became our overriding aim.   Whilst at the cemetery we were lucky enough to meet some representatives of the Australian Armed forces and we told them the story of this remarkable young man.  They have vowed to keep in touch with us with a view to commemorating this young airman.   Next year will be the 70th Anniversary and our mayor has told me that there will be an inauguration of a new memorial plaque in our village, this will mention not only the Australian airman, but many more names of soldiers of the 507th P.I.R and citizens who perished.

This link will take you to the history of our village and will add some gravitas to the heroism portrayed by the allied servicemen who lost their lives defending it.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

English Debate 2013

I spent this afternoon in the company of some extraordinary students.   All of them were in troisi√®me (year 9's) and were expected to conduct a “for and against” debate completely in English.   Their level of English was exceptional and their commitment to the competition exemplary.   I had the honour of being a juror during the preliminaries in May and was asked to judge the qualifiers at the College Louis Pasteur and the final which took place at the Conseil General de la Manche in St Lo, an imposing building and worthy of the gravitas of the final.   It is the third year I have had the privilege to judge these debates and I was struck, not only by the students' level of English, but by the enthusiasm of their teachers.   My fellow jurors were, to a person, impressed with the formidable efforts the students made and I, for one, know that I would not have been able to debate in French the motions that these students were tasked with.   It is one thing arguing your point with conviction in your maternal tongue, quite another to argue a case for or against a subject in a foreign language.   Students were told the subject 10 minutes prior to the debate and then drew their position either for or against the motion.   After 10 minutes preparation with their teachers they had 10 minutes to convince us of their arguments.   At the end four jurors deliberated and scored their efforts.   As the "native English" speaker on the jury it was my role to deliver the results, an incredibly humbling experience.   My congratulations go out to the team from Agon-Coutainville and their teachers, but also to the runners up from Louis Pasteur and all the teams that participated.   Bravo √† tous!!