A Million Cupcakes

Just a quick one to share a cause I think needs some more publicity. Two amazing kids that I have taught in the past have created http://www.millioncupcakes.org/ in memory of their grandfather, to try and raise money and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease, (MND) which they can explain on the website far better than I could. (Well done to the parents for such obviously brilliant discussion on a complex illness by the way!)

While the disease is terrible, and the idea, (of selling a million virtual cupcakes) is adorable, something much bigger touched my heart, especially while dealing with my own grief.

I’m sure we all remember the first time we lost someone important to us. I was Oliver’s age (7) and really that first grief was really more a first glance at the idea that people do not live forever, that those we love can be lost, and that there’s nothing we can do about it.

The next time I lost someone I cared about, I was around Ella’s age, (11) and this time I remember missing them so acutely that it hurt all the time. I wrote letters, I kept busy, but again, there is a helplessness about death that makes it seem hopeless, especially for a child.

Even at age 19, when I experienced a real loss for the first time, that sense of confusion and despair was no less prevalent. And it’s still there.

And I think that’s why I feel so attached to this particular cause. Yes, I know the children personally, and if it helps-they are both really lovely kids. But more than that, they are taking their grief for their grandfather, and removing the hopelessness from it. They are creating something wonderful and meaningful out of their loss, and if more people can share this cause, as well as this idea, they could actually change the world before they hit their teens, at an age where when faced with loss, most of us are just battling with getting up for school in the morning.

I’m impressed, and I think if you take the time to visit the website and check out the video, you will be too.

So what are you waiting for? Click the link, learn something, and send a delicious (calorie-free!) cupcake today, for as little as £2. And share share share!


I love you, now leave me alone.

I have been inspired today by West End Singleton, who writes about being clear about your intentions when getting into a relationship with someone.

It got me thinking, how many of life’s stresses ad upsets could have been entirely avoided, simply by being more honest and open with our communication?

We’re all guilty of it. We tell our spouses “Nothing’s wrong” when thats far from the truth, we answer “I’m fine” even when we’re not close to it. We put a moody face on, and hope someone guesses they’ve upset us without us having to spell it out. And then we get angry or disappointed when people cant read our oh so clever signals and magically apologize or change.

But why would they? If I dont tell a friend that I need some alone time, why wouldnt they keep texting and phoning? If I dont mention to my spouse that he’s upset me, how on earth can he know how to avoid the same mistake the next time? For the most part, no one is trying to upset anyone else. But we are not each other. We think and feel differently to anyone else on the planet, and thats what makes relationships so great.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” Plutarch. I love this quote, and I think that we all want our relationships to to challenge us and differ from us in countless ways. Accepting that the people in our lives are not inside our heads, and might need to hear our thoughts once in a while, is not a failiure of the friendship or of you as an individual. On the contrary, its proof that you are close enough to talk honestly together, without being afraid of hurt feelings or miscommunication.

I know a couple who recently split up, after nearly 2 decades of marriage. They are currently giving it another go, despite much dissatisfaction between them. The guy has said that he has had issues with the relationship for over a decade, but hasnt wanted to ‘make a fuss.’ It’s almost laughable. He nearly lost the whole marriage because he didnt mention the niggles and problems ten or fifteen years previously. Of course the wife couldnt change her behaviour, (because why would she think to try to?) and probably felt that she coulnt mention anything negative to her {seemingly satisfied) hubby, and suddenly the carpet gets too full of ‘little things’ being brushed underneath it, and they’re having the kids on alternate weekends.

It’s shocking. It’s shocking how easily not talking becomes shouting.

There are always going to be no-go areas with the people in our lives, topics that are not discussed because they’re fruitless or where two people differ too greatly. But for the most part, with the right language, telling someone how you feel can never be a mistake, even and sometimes especially, where it’s difficult or doesnt have your ideal outcome.

Children tell us exactly what they want, when they want it. In no uncertain terms, kids hold nothing back. And at some point we are taught how to censor the words we use and the people we use them to, for social etiquette or self-preservation. But when are we taught to start hiding, especially from those that we love?

My baby is so nosy, his first words were…

“Who’s that?”

That’s right, in the past month, my baby is taking serious steps (literally) towards toddler-dom. He is not only walking, but now talking. And his first words, creatively eschewing the more traditional mama and dada, are “Who’s that?” (I like to think he knows about the apostrophe.)

It took me and C a while to decide whether these are in fact his first words. After all, with no other grasp on language, it is hard to cross examine him as to whether he understands what he is saying. For a while now, he has surprised us with his unexpected skills of mimicry, at the oddest moments and with no repeat performances, he will give you an exact copy of what you have just said to him. These are not first words. That is his first foray into impressions.

“Who’s that” started out the same way. We would point to a new guest in our home, and sing-song those words to our son, in the hope that he would answer us with “Daddy!” “Nana!” “The Ocado delivery man!” We would also use his reflection as an opportunity to see if he knew his own name, “Who’s that? Its R!” You get the picture. However, evidently, our plan backfired. After a while, when we were simply asking him to name a relative, he would mimic back to us, “ooooo zaaa” and we would laugh.

However, it has progressed to clear speech. George V would be jealous. Upon passing a mirror, or a car window, or any particularly shiny surface, including the bathroom taps, our son now gleefully points at himself and announces, “Who’s that?” The same is true when he sees my mum, or a familliar face in the house. He knows when to say the words, he knows the actions which go along with them, and so without any further method of detection, I think we have to accept that he is speaking.

The last few days he has broadened out to objects. “Whass that?” I hear as he passes me a toy or points at my shopping bags. Never mind, I’m sure his next words will be Ima or Daddy. Or you know, “Move out the way, I’m spying on the neighbours.”














What were your baby’s first words?

Language creates reality.

I went out on a playdate this week with a friend and her son. Although they are a few months apart, they are at similar stages, and it was really cute to watch them playing together. By together, I mean in the same room, as babies of this age seem to entirely ignore each other as much as possible. But still, cute.

Our boys are on different sides of a year and a half, and until recently, neither had shown any interest in walking. Given that this is not late and not early, certainly for me the difficulty of a still crawling child was more in how heavy he is to lug everywhere, and the necessity to take a buggy or a husband with for even the quickest and easiest of trips.

However, while we were out, another mother, standing nearby and observing our lightning fast crawlers, asked how old our kids were. Upon hearing our answer, she replied “Gosh, all these late walkers!”

Er.. Do you want a slap?

At the time, I settled for walking away, mentally adding another face to my “Wow I don’t like you” list. Today, it’s progressed to annoyance and the need to vent. Ok, so your kid walked at 13 months, well done you. It doesnt make you a better mother, and it doesnt make your kid any cleverer. It doesnt mean anything at all in fact.

A statement like that, however innocently meant, can only serve to make another parent worried about their own childs development, and especially in a situation like ours, entirely pointlessly. 18 months give or take, is not a ‘late walker.’ We all worry enough about our kids and the milestones they are hitting. Is this too early? Is this too late? Are they doing things well enough or quickly enough? What we need from other mums, is support. And often sympathy.

How strange that if she had said “Gosh, he must be getting heavy!” The same message would have come across but I would not be annoyed at all. Rather than hear a self-congratulatory jibe at my son, (who is clearly wearing glasses, so clearly would have some delay anyway) I would have heard another mother empathising with me and engaging me in normal mummy chit-chat.

In any area of life, the things we say to one another are so important. Language creates reality. What we say to others gives them a new outlook on what is actually happening and what they are dealing with. You comfort a person, things actually become better for them in their eyes. You argue and lash out, and a new truth settles in a friends mind. If this is true of any situation, then how much more so when we are talking about our children-the most precious things in our lives, and possibly where we need the most reassurance? Yesterday, R became for that second a “late walker”, a baby who wasnt as quick as another, or as capable. I dismissed it, and chose to instead focus on disliking the speaker, but a different person could have walked away worried and concerned.

When I became a mother, I automatically joined this special group made up of parents.Even without an introduction, we can smile at each other across a coffee shop, strike up conversation on a bus ride, and give advice to each other about all manner of topics. Without being in this club, and enjoying the support it brings, the last 16 months would have been nearly impossible. Being a part of this group is therefore a priviledge. Why abuse it?

Standing Man!


I don’t want to feel better.

Pet peeve of the day. Consolation.

Maybe I’m being a bit ridiculous, but I genuinely dont want to be made to feel better. At least not the way you think.

There is a verse which says “Do not comfort your friend while his dead lie before him.” The point being, it doesnt help. No one wants to be made to feel better when an event or situation is still current or raw. A good friend will not actively try to comfort, but rather just listen and be sympathetic, which in my opinion makes a much more substantial difference to how you’re feeling.

One of the most grating sentences ever uttered is, “may that be the worst thing that ever happens to u!” This tends to be said when you’re particularly upset over an event which may not be in truth, earth shatteringly important. No one has died, no great financial loss has been incurred. But do you know what? I’m still upset.
What is basically belittling my sadness and telling me the equivalent of ‘worse things happen,’ is not only ridiculous (because yes, of course worse things happen than missing my bus / losing my oyster card / waiting half an hour for a tardy friend [can you tell I don’t drive?]) but frankly unhelpful. Did you think I was going to jump out of my misery, exclaiming “wow, I forgot about all those starving kids in Africa, I’ll cheer up now”?
Aside from the uselessness of that comment, it is also extremely condecsending. It suggests that nothing more important has ever happened in your life that could compete with your trauma of the day. Which is obviously not true. You dont need a degree in sociology to be aware that it’s the little things which throw us into a tailspin of moodiness, wheras real life crisis normally summons strength and composure we didnt know we possessed.

It seems to be obvious and so easy to me that when someone is upset, they genuinely just want to hear, “I’m so sorry, that must be so hard for you.” Whether a big life event or a trivial occurence, if someone is in a bad mood, that’s the way it is! Why should we have to be ‘talked out’ of it?

I’ve found that a lot more men are guilty of this than women. I think this theory heads back to caveman times. Men, as ‘Hunter-Gatherer-Provider’ types, have an inbuilt desire to ‘fix’ problems. Even when there is nothing to fix. Most of the time, when us poor ‘Frail Weak’ woman types have a problem, all we really want is a shoulder to cry on. Someone to tell us that we look pretty and offer to punch whoever/whatever was mean to us. (Calm down feminists, I’m hyperbolising, but you get my point.) When men cant fix, they get jittery at being asked to use their more emotional side to -Gasp- listen to us and be sympathetic.. so they tend to keep trying to fix, long after it’s clear they can’t unburn the lasagne for you, and you just need a good wail.

I’m sure I dont speak for all people-kind. I suppose there are folks out there who hate even the smallest amount of wallowing, and would prefer to be snapped out of their bad moods immediately upon occurence, and if a solution is out there, they want everyone in their lives on ‘fixing mode’ until it’s sorted.

I will have to apologize to you for my generalisation via this blog, as I wouldnt want to meet with that much good-naturedness face to face.