Because I have too much to say..

.. I post when I can ill afford to. And then check the comments and can’t resist responding to them. Before I know it, the day’s gone and nothing has actually got done.

What do I do, sometimes there is just so much for me to say. Husband says I always have too much to say, but let’s forget that for a moment, shall we?

Yesterday daughter came home saying, ‘Amma, you know S? Her mum has 3 daughters and now she has one more baby in her tummy! How is she going to manage four children? Amma, if you had 4 children, would you have given 3 away for adoption and kept only me?

I was aghast! Clearly my daughter knows how inefficient I am! ‘No, darling, if I had 4 children, I would look after them, just as I look after you’.

Her: ‘ But then may be I would have to learn to cook and everything, because you wouldn’t have time to do everything’. What can I say, just goes to show that my inefficiency is very, very evident to my daughter 😦 Yesterday, we did miss the school bus, but in my defense, we got delayed because we were having a very interesting discussion on something. Maybe, husband does have a point about me talking too much. Sigh!

Talking of children and how having them affects things, Rahul Gandhi seems to have his priorities sorted. Such a patriotic man, he is giving up on having children just so that India gets rid of ‘high command’ politics! Now, that has to be called dedication! Can we think of any others with such lofty ideals? Oh wait! Maybe, that’s what Mayawati, Mamata and Modi have been doing too! See, we are so quick to condemn politicians, while all they’ve been doing is making such huge, huge sacrifices for the country. Forget having children, they even refuse to marry. Because of course, marriage is only for procreation! It’s just us ordinary mortals who believe in marriage being for other things like companionship and joys of having a soulmate.

I’m having a steady stream of visitors at my place – tenants viewing the house and removals surveyors. It feels like it is never ending. And sometimes when you cancel other stuff and wait for them, they don’t turn up. Argh! The whole process of packing up is scaring me. So much to do. So many things to get rid off, to give away, to pack away.. I hadn’t realized how many things have added up since we came here. Plus craft work! What do I do with all of daughter’s craft work. Too precious to throw away, nobody who would want to take it away.. and no way of taking it back with me. And too many things to take to my parent’s place already without adding these as well.

I’ve got to run now. Too many tasks staring at me while I type away at the laptop.

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Swear words and bad bad songs

During daughter’s last week in school in Leeds, she came home and said, ‘Amma, you need to tell me what swear words are’.

Me: ‘Swear words are bad words, that we should not use.’

Daughter: ‘I know that! I want to know some swear words so that I can recognize them when some one uses them’.

Me: ‘But for that I will have to tell you the words, that means, I will have to say bad words, isn’t it? That won’t be right, will it?’

Daughter: ‘Hmmm. You know, there is a song which has swear words’.

Me, Flabbergasted,’ Which one, and how do you know!’

Daughter: J(a British Asian Classmate of hers), was humming- Sheela Sheela Shaani, and A( another British Asian classmate of hers) told me that that song is a bad, bad song, and has loads of swear words’!

Apparently J goes to Bollywood dance lessons and learnt the song from there.

On a different note, Daughter is happy in her new school – so far, fingers-crossed. The only thing that puzzles her a bit is the fact that all the children have ‘strange names’ 🙂

To keep a child safe

I am a helicopter mum. A paranoid mum some might say, but I worry. I worry about a million things when it comes to daughter.

A lot of times, I am asked why I read books related to child abuse, when they are so painful. Yes, they are painful, they are horrific, and they affect me really badly. But most importantly it tells me that I have the responsibility to ensure that daughter is kept as safe as possible. They remind me that abuse of all sorts happen in environments of all sorts. Books like these jolt me out of complacency. They make me worry, and they make me take action to ensure that I do what I can to keep daughter safe.

It used to worry me that so many Indian parents that I know, refuse to accept that things like this happen in India. They believe that it is a Western thing, something that doesn’t happen in our culture.

Husband and I are very, very careful in this regard. Daughter knows about the good touch/bad touch, and we keep asking and reminding her every so often. Just because you never know. In India, a lot of people consider me, too protective. I don’t lose sight of her in functions, I ensure that one of us is keeping an eye on her, we don’t allow people to take her ‘to the bazaar, just like that’. We insist on going with her. It’s not about not trusting one person – it’s about not setting a pattern. I would rather be safe than sorry.

She did go out for a sleep over once, but now, I feel worried – I feel I shouldn’t have sent her – she was fine – but what if she weren’t? What if something had happened. I don’t know. It worries me and scares me.

I know I can’t control everything, but at the very least, I can try and talk to daughter, ensure that we have a clear communication going on about everything, and educate her to protect herself, be confident and be in a position to stop any behaviour. And know that we are there to help her in any situation.

As my Dad says, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst’. That is all that we can do, isn’t it?

And hopefully after yesterday’s episode on Child Sexual Abuse on Satyamev Jayate, a lot of parents out there, would too.

The Right to Education

Some thing most of us take for granted, but is out of reach for so many of our fellow Indians.

Every since the Supreme Court ruling judgement upholding the applicability of the Right to Education Act (RTE) even to unaided schools, has come out, I have been reading up articles, opinions, blogs related to it. I have an added interest because we are moving back  to India this year, and I wanted to understand how it would affect us.

Let me clarify, that I have managed to secure admission in one school in Bangalore – not the school that I wanted – but the only school which had vacancies for Grade1, which indicates that most schools are completely full. I am happy to go with what we have got, with the hope that daughter will be fine, and where ever the school lacks, we will be able to pitch in and support her. My choices were further reduced because I did not want to opt for schools that ask for donations – as far as I could.

Now, going on to this RTE debate. I am not entirely sure where I sit on whether the 25% quota is a good thing or a bad thing. Clearly education is a fundamental right, and it is sad that so many of our children go without education. And something definitely needs to be done about it, I am just not completely sure if just reserving 25% seats in private schools is right or even enough.

In order to understand the statistics better, I was trying to look up information. According to Wikipedia(not always the most accurate, so if you have more reliable sources, please can you let me know? Would be really grateful), 80% of all schools in India are Government Schools. That makes the government the largest provider of education. But here is the interesting part, despite 80% of schools being government schools, 27% of the children in India, are being educated in private schools. Which begs the question, are the existing government schools being utilized to their full extent? Are they being monitored? Are there parameters set to figure out how the schools are performing.

My daughter goes to a state school in the UK here. We pay nothing for her education – not a penny. We could easily afford private education for her, but chose not to,mainly because good state schools are comparable to private education – at least in the primary years. Of course, all state schools might not be great, just as not all private schools are really good, but we’ve been fine, thankfully. Here, only about 7% of the children attend private schools. Since then, I have also heard of the ‘snob factor’ that is there in private schools, and it makes me happy that my daughter is not in an environment like that. I am happy for her to be in a more inclusive environment rather than a super-privileged environment. Of course, there have been times, when I wonder if I were too idealistic in my beliefs, but so far have been convinced that the school she is in, is great for her.

There are all sorts of state schools, and one thing I have noticed here is the accountability of the teachers, the staff. The fact that there are independent agencies like the Ofsted(click on the link, and you will be able to see how they work), which review and rate schools. Schools that are not performing to the expected standards are evaluated and the govt takes measures to ensure better performance. If I wanted to find out how the school works, I can find full reports with all the information I might need. Some schools still don’t perform as well as others due to other factors that affect it, but at least we don’t feel as cynical as we do about the Indian govt.

I would have been delighted if I could send my daughter to a state school in India as well, but clearly, that would be out of question for a variety of reasons.

If the real reason children do not have access to education is the lack of seats in government schools, then I would entirely agree that private schools need to do their share of giving back to the society. For some reason, it feels to me that the government is shirking its responsibility of providing education to every Indian. I would have been more impressed if it came up with a methodology to bring up the existing state schools to a level where every parent would be happy to send their child, rather than make it a refuge for parents who can’t afford better. After all, not all government schools are bad, why can’t we try to get all our schools to an acceptable level?  I do believe that some states have better govt schools than others. What stops us from replicating their success? Political will, I suppose. The RTE act itself has a lot of good guidelines in regulating the school conditions, but why have no measures been chalked out yet, that the government would undertake to ensure that schools run at the minimum acceptable standards.  If along with improvement schemes to the existing state schools, the government also included the 25% quota, I, as a parent, would have been very happy. In the current scheme of things, I can’t help feeling that this is more of a quick-fix measure, which might not really make a huge difference in the years to come. A law can only do so much. Law enforcement is as important as drafting a sensible law, in my opinion.

As for the  ‘class divide’ question which a lot of parents feel concerned about. I feel that the class divide needs to go. It might not go in a hurry, but things might change if our children grow up without the class divide in their minds(and if we try not to put these things into their minds). If they learn to accept that their friends come from different backgrounds, and just having more money or a more plush lifestyle does not make a better or worse person. I think it would do our children, a world of good, to be able to the person, rather than the packaging.

So what do you think about all this?

PS: I’ve mentioned again and again how wonderful daughter’s teachers are! And when I see adverts like this, I feel like teaching! Along with RTE, I wish we had a campaign to encourage people to go into teaching. After all, most of us will have at least one teacher, who left a lasting mark on our minds..

Edited to add: Check out this campaign by HT.
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dv7rPAa0gKqw&v=v7rPAa0gKqw&gl=GB

I count my blessings.. Post 17

..every time that I go to daughter’s school.

We had an open morning at school, where parents are invited to come in and observe how their children work at school. It is an amazing experience, and every time I go for an open morning, I come back impressed.

Impressed at the teachers’ patience, the gentle way in which they impart knowledge. I could see every child participating, every child was involved, at some level or the other.

What I really liked was the way the slightly fidgety , not exactly naughty, but more disinterested children were handled. There was a child who was more interested in doing whatever pleased her rather than participate in their group’s activity(the children are divided into groups, and each group was doing a separate activity).  The teacher who was handling the group, would gently bring the child’s attention back to the activity. Gently but firmly, not once losing her temper. I was amazed at her efforts.Eventually, the child started participating. Even when children give the wrong answers, they are just asked to try again and then congratulated when they do come up with the right answer. You could see how the positivity helped the children focus, and improve at what they were doing. By the end of that 15 minute activity, all the children were equally involved and focused. Each activity worked towards a  specific goal. Activities which looked like fun, actually taught them counting, handling money, adding, taking away…

I had written about how we learn better when we enjoy what we learn, sometime back. It just gets reinforced when I see the way daughter’s school works. The children genuinely bond with the teachers, they wait to go to school, last time one of the children hugged the teacher as soon as they got in the class. I was so touched. It just showed to me how much the teachers cared for the children.

Despite the gentle approach, not one child misbehaved. Most of the children were vying to answer questions, they knew the protocol they had to follow, and any time they digressed, all they needed was a gentle reminder from the teachers. Who says children won’t learn unless they are forced?

I might have said this before, but I want to put it on record again, I truly feel glad, that daughter is able to go to a school like this. Where she feels secure, happy and is learning so much.

For a child to be a child.. Post 12

..seems to be almost impossible..

Sandhya and Monika shared this link on Facebook, and I had to add my two cents. Apparently, a mother gave her 8 year old daughter Botox, apart from treatments like waxing her legs. All for a beauty pageant.

I can’t help wonder what motivates mothers(or parents) to even think of such treatments for a child. How can a parent be obsessed by the way their child looks? How can a beauty pageant be so important that their child needs to go through such ‘treatments’ to compete?  In the link, the child talks about having Botox to get rid of ‘wrinkles’. Wrinkles? On an 8 yr old child? What, how? I mean, I am running out of words here.

Here I flinch when I take my daughter for her regular immunizations, which, I know, is no comparison, but how could a mother inject her child with Botox for purely cosmetic reasons? What is most saddening and horrifying for me, is that the little girl believed that she has wrinkles! And that it is ‘unladylike’ for a girl to have hair on her body! This is an 8 year old talking, by the way, just in case we forget, in the face of all these adult treatments.

Why are we robbing our children on their childhood? While most parents would not go to the extreme of Botox or waxing, but the emphasis on beauty and looks is pretty much there. I was in a beauty saloon about 6 years ago, in Bangalore. I was pregnant with daughter at that time. While I was getting my hair cut, there was this little girl, not more than 4 or 5 years old, who had professional make-up applied on her. They were on their way to a wedding, and the little girl was delighted with her make-up.  She looked horrendous with adult make-up and lipstick on her, in my opinion, but people were cooing on her and telling her that she looked like a movie-star.If only I could have given them a piece of my mind. The staff of the saloon told me that it is routine. Parents get their children to have make-up applied, hair straightened, curled, set, the works. Now, I see people I know, doing the same. My little girl is curious about make-up too, but I am careful not to glamourise it, and thankfully, apart from the cursory look at what I am upto, she is not really bothered. And I would have it no other way.

It is not just about makeup either. Some of my daughter’s friends have shoes with heels. They wear delicate shoes, with straps, and bows and all sorts of things, which just about allows them to stand without tripping over. What happened to sensible shoes? Sandals which allows them to be children? I might be considered an ‘unfashionable’ mother, but I much rather have my child playing, running and doing everything she wants to rather than wear ‘fashionable’ shoes and get shoe-bitten or just stand in a corner. No wonder the boys seem more active, because they are dressed appropriately. When on holiday, I just take sturdy, sensible shoes for her. Yes, she might not change shoes with every outfit, but at least she is able to walk miles, and not have shoe bites, and aching feet.

I have heard new-born babies being lauded as ‘She will be a Miss Universe’. A woman’s need for beauty is stated right from the beginning of her life. I am yet to hear someone say that of a baby boy. A child(girl) who is tall is told, ‘She will be a model, when she grows up’. When we put such ideas into their heads, is it a wonder that little girls get obsessed with their looks and their clothes? Yes, not all of them might be worried about their wrinkles, but some are definitely worried about their complexion.

Here in the UK, there is an initiative called ‘Stop Pimping our Kids’, which is part of a TV programme. They try to take on retailers who sell inappropriate clothes targeted at children as young as 6/7 years old. While it is great to make the retailers accountable, I think the deeper question is, who buys these clothes? Clearly these clothes are on the rack,because parents are buying them.. Isn’t that a bigger problem?

If only I could cocoon daughter from all these influences. I know I can’t but I can try to negate them by deflecting her attention, and by explaining why heels are not such a good idea. Not just for children, even for adults. And by focussing on things that lets her be a child.

To become or not – a parent.

Yesterday, I came across this article.

It talks about how many couples seem to be opting not have children – for various reasons. While some viewpoints support the idea, there was one viewpoint that caught my eye.

But how natural or unnatural is it for a couple to not have kids? “It’s not a socio-culturally natural way of living,” says Dr Bhavna Barmi, senior clinical psychologist and marital therapist at Escorts Heart Institute, “as physiologically, the body has a child-bearing capacity which should be optimised.” 

Surely, just because the body has a ‘child-bearing capacity’ it is not necessary to have children? What about the mind? What about not wanting to have children, does that not matter at all? If we have to do everything the body is designed to, then why ‘contraception’?

The article also reminded me of a somebody who was glorifying motherhood on Facebook. She mentioned something to the effect that women will always be ‘greater’ than men because only women can be ‘mothers’. It begged the question, what about women who don’t want to be mothers? Going by this logic, the only redeeming feature women has, is the ability to become a mother!

You hear so many people glorifying motherhood, that it makes me wonder how it makes those feel who have decided for whatever reasons, to not have children. The moment the ‘expected’ amount of time goes by after one is married, the hints, the gentle reminders start on how we need to become parents, on how it is time to have a child. And god forbid, if the child does not make an appearance soon enough to make the society happy! Whether one is ready for it or not,whether one wants to become a parent or not, is besides the point. It makes me wonder how many people decide to have a baby because of these external factors.

Having a baby is treated as a fix-all in so many cases – if your marriage is not working out, have a baby, that will fix it! A friend was lamenting on a friend of hers who was literally asked to leave the house by her husband. It was arranged marriage and her husband was just not interested in being married, apparently. She had supportive parents who supported her fully, yet when she discovered that she was pregnant,  she chose to go back to her husband because she felt that a baby would change things. This despite her parents and her close friends counseling her to think before taking this step. Apparently she strongly believed that a child would make a massive difference.

It also makes me wonder why being in a relationship is considered so important, that she went back into a relationship where she was told that she was ‘unwanted’! Not just that, she even thought that bringing a child into a relationship like this was a good idea.

Haven’t we all heard of irresponsible men, of whom people say, ‘Get him married off, he will get change once responsibility comes upon him’. I don’t understand this. A person who clearly has problems, or is not mature enough to handle his life, will get mature and responsible just because he has entered a new relationship? Does it ever work? Well, it might for some, while for others the poor wife might have to bear the brunt of it.

Any relationship, be it marriage or having a child, after all being a father or a mother is starting off a whole new relationship, isn’t it, needs to thought out. Instead of going by what society dictates, wouldn’t it be wonderful if people decided based on what they wanted from life? If couples are deciding against having babies, well, more power to them. Whatever be the reason. I hear people say, ‘oh all she is bothered about is her career’, or ‘what do they think they will do with all this money’! Surely, that is their lookout. If someone wants to focus on their career – so what? And what of a homemaker, who does not want a child? Surely that is possible. I personally know someone who is a homemaker and they have decided not to have children. I think it is remarkable that they have thought it through, and have decided based on what makes sense to them. If only every child that came into this world came because the parents truly wanted to have a child, not just because that is what is expected – by others.

If couples feel that they are not ready for a child or that they do not feel the need to be parents, I respect them for having that clarity of thought, than having a child, and then feeling cheated or wishing that they had waited more.

Not having children is far better than having a child and then regretting it, or worse, not being in a position to give the child the love and security that makes for happy childhood and a secure, confident adulthood.

Christmassy fun!

It is nearly Christmas, and usual, we are made aware of it in more ways than one. Everything is lit up and the holiday feel is already here.

Our Christmas tree is up, and someone is very busy singing Christmas songs and all pretend-play is based on the ‘special baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph’. All the after effects of the Christmas concert at school.

Today was the special day. She woke up all excited. We had been issued instructions on how we needed to be early, and how we need to be in the first row(which we could not make, there were parents who were quicker than us). But we did make it to the second row. It was Husband’s first Christmas concert experience, he did not make it to last year’s performance. I don’t think he is going to miss any more Christmas concerts(or any other concert that daughter takes part in), ever again.

I was reading through what I wrote last year, and surprisingly, it was exactly the same this year. I was still moist-eyed at the end of it, despite having seen it all last year. Can we as parents, ever have enough of seeing our children on stage? All of us parents were buzzing with excitement, and the sight of our children had us waving, in delight and excitement. The excitement levels were so high that they first had a ‘big wave’ to get it out of the way!

The performance was so beautifully executed! The teachers gently getting the children to follow the cues, they managed small hiccups like a little boy getting upset beautifully, without making him feel worse, and the children, they were so cute! They just gave it their all! Singing, performing..just having a wonderful time!

Every time I attend an afternoon like this, all I can do is be thankful for the loving environment that Poohi has at school. The genuine care and concern of the teachers makes me count my blessings. I just hope that daughter gets a happy and safe environment everywhere she goes.

And now she has the school Christmas party to look forward to – what a fun life! I want to be a child again! I wonder if they would take kindly to a mother gate-crashing?

Boys, no? They are like that only!

Thanks Blogadda and IHM for the Spicy Pick!

There is this lady who I know. A nice lady, but she has one habit(should I call it a habit, well, whatever), that drives me a little crazy. The title of this post is one of her favourite sentences.

She is a mother of a 1.5 year old, and she keeps talking of how boys are wild, and how boys cannot be disciplined, and how it is muuuuch easier to bring up girls. I wonder on what authority she speaks, given the fact that she does not have one of each.

All this is also tempered with references to how her son is the favourite of his grandparents’ because he is their only son’s only son! That is a another story for another day.

Her husband is no better. He once told us that our daughters(another friend with a daughter was present as well), eat food outside , without any problems – because they are girls, apparently boys do not do that either!

Everything is blamed on the child being a boy. If he refuses to sit in his stroller, which by the way, there are plenty of other reasons for, it is because he is a boy – and more ‘active’!

If the child refuses to share, he is a boy after all, and he has a ‘temper’ if he is forced to do it.

Their attitude  makes me wonder how that child will turn up in a few years time. Right now, he is an adorable little thing, doing stuff which every child his age does – irrespective of gender. One time, he was playing with something, and his mother tried to take it away – and he showed his annoyance at that. I have seen loads of little children doing the same, but in this case, the parents proudly say, ‘My son has a temper!’. They actually sound proud of the fact. It is another thing that he had no temper – it was just the way most children that age would react. Even if a child does behave in an ill-tempered way, at that age(he was 8 or 9 months old), I would just ignore it, and in an older child, would probably explain to the child, that it is rude, rather than proudly gloat over it.

Another parent tells her 4 yr old, that he should not be hitting girls because they are ‘cry-babies’. So it is perfectly fine to hit or bully other children- just not girls, and that too because girls are cry babies! What are we teaching our children? And these are all educated parents. Clearly education has no chance in front of the age old discrimination between girls and boys. And not only do the believe in it, they are ensuring that their little children grow up with ideas like this in their heads. I can’t help wonder how this boy is going to react when grows up and has to work with women or even worse, report to a woman at work?

Every time I see the way some parents handle their children, it just makes me understand why so many little boys are badly behaved – they are just not taught that it is wrong to behave that way. Even when parents do scold them, it is with an indulgent smile saying, ‘how else can you expect boys to behave?’ So as the child grows up, he learns the nuances. He is free to ignore the half-hearted admonishing, because of the tone accompanying it. I feel, that even a young child can understand the tone that we speak in. When we mean business and when we do not. If we are firm, and we show them that we are ready to carry through what we say, they will listen. Maybe , not the first time, but if they get a consistent message every time, it will just be a matter of time before a child(irrespective of gender), learns what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not.

On the other hand, girls, I feel are told to ‘behave’ from the time they are little. There is another family I know who refused to cut their 3 year old’s hair because apparently she needs to know how to have long hair – after all she is a girl. She was just a 3 year old! This was not even about misbehaviour – but acceptable standards for girls! Girls misbehaving is a no-no, but boys – what can we say, they just don’t listen!

If the girls are well behaved – then it is purely because they are girls – their parents’ parenting methods have nothing to do with it, of course! Girls come programmed with good behaviour!

Long back, before we had Poohi, we had been to an party with some of husband’s old colleagues. All the couples except one had girls. The lone boy was being called the ‘Kishan Kanhaiya’ of their group. This boy, I think around 2 years of age, was going around terrorizing(hitting, grabbing toys) all the other children, while his parents looked on, smiling. I was shocked, but nobody else seemed to find that odd. Later, as time passed, I would hear gossip about how naughty that child was. People started avoiding them because their children refused to play with him. His mother had a second child – a girl, and she turned out even naughtier- throwing all their theories of boys being naughtier than girls right out of the window. She surpassed her older brother in naughtiness. She would copy everything her brother did and more. Eventually, when this little boy went to school, he would return with complaints from her teachers every single day. His parents were at their wits end, when suddenly he changed – almost overnight, he became the most well behaved boy. My friend says that people could not believe that it was the same destructive, ill-mannered child! Apparently, when he learnt that good behaviour was rewarded at school, he picked it up. This boy just needed to be guided in the right direction. Clearly, his parents had sent him all the wrong signals, he was never told, properly, about acceptable behaviour. Isn’t it sad, that a child had to learn all this at school and not at home? If you ask me, the parents are doing their children a disservice by not teaching them how to behave. Which child would want to be unpopular at school? Do parents want their children to be avoided by others?

If I had a penny for every time I hear a parent gloatingly complain about their little boy.. Ever wonder why we never hear a parent of a girl gloating about how she refuses to listen? Because I have seen badly behaved girls as well – but have just not hear heard their parents being proud about it! And what of all those well mannered boys? Are we saying that they are not boyish enough if they listen to their parents or do not go about beating people or are taught to share and play well with other children? And there are plenty of beautifully behaved boys!

While I do understand and appreciate that there are some differences in the way girls and boys behave. My little one, with no prompting from me, goes straight to the jewellery section, if she manages to catch sight of it. She loves pink, and is princess-crazy – despite my best efforts. At the same time, she recognizes the make of cars, she loves playing with trains on train track, loves to pretend at being Bob the Builder. I do think all this is a combination of environment, genes and natural aptitude.

There are boisterous boys and girls, just as there are quiet and calm, boys and girls. Why can’t we take each child as he/she is, and not as a sub sect of their gender? Yes, for sure, there are gender differences, but I do think gender has nothing to do with wild behaviour or misbehaviour. Badly behaved children or children who refuse to listen, are the way they are because of their parent’s parenting methods.  Can we please stop blaming the gender of the child for their (bad)behaviour?

Parking Woes

The only thing I positively hate about driving is finding parking spaces. Over time I have perfected the art of finding suitable places to park wherever I go. I know the nearest non-paid parking to all the places I frequent.

I even ‘google’ to figure out if a place has parking or not. I have even figured the best time to go grocery shopping, because believe it or not some of times it looks like the whole of Leeds has landed at my favourite supermarket! It has plenty of parking, and even that is completely full at times. It has loads of parent and child parking too, but we never ever get one of those. One time, one lady almost came to blows with an old man because she could not see a child in their car, and they had pulled into the ‘parent and child’ bay. Only to retreat shamefacedly when  thy showed her their tiny grandchild inside the car 🙂  Why on earth do people need to buy so much stuff? It reminds me of my friend who is always lamenting how people keep buying stuff they don’t need and how very soon the whole earth will be covered with ‘stuff’ – but that is something for another post 🙂

As I was saying, I try not to go spontaneously without meticulous planning. I hate going round and round in the car park, stalking people walking with loaded shopping trolleys in the hope that I will be able to follow them to their cars and wait for them to pull out, in order to get a parking. Yes, I have been forced to become a stalker in order to get parking. Of course, stalking works best when you have another person( a grown up, not a child), with you. When husband and I work together, it works beautifully. I concentrate on finding people who look like they are on their way out, and husband follows my instructions and drives around. Believe me, even massive malls with loads of parking are totally full on some days. Especially on wet weekends when the whole country has no option but to head to a mall or when Christmas is around the corner 😉

Another no-no, that I have added just recently, is – ‘Never go grocery shopping during term breaks’. Just the other day, I ended up at the supermarket, with Poohi at the beginning of her term break. Turns out that plenty of other mums had the same idea. Not a single parking available. Pooohi stared getting all worried with this driving around.

Poohi, ‘Amme, Why are you not parking?’

Me, ‘Can’t find a place to park, darling.’

Poohi,’ But you can park between these two cars’

Me,’ How do you expect me to shrink the car into a space where your even bike would not fit?’

Poohi,’ Silly me’ *giggles* and then shouts, ‘Lots of space here, lots of space here’

Me,trying to not get all exasperated,’ That, my dear, was the road!’

Poohi, ‘ oh oh’

And so it continued, until I finally found a place, after going round and round that car park for what seemed like ages, with nonstop commentary from the back seat driver, only to enter a supermarket full of mothers trying to pull away children from Halloween displays and Halloween costumes. That, is fodder for another post though.