Money Shenanigans

There’s a concert I’d like to go to,

The group’s only here for one night.

If I miss this one, it could be years

Before they’re back on a flight.


I’ve seen a top and trousers too.

They’re class and such a bargain.

The sale’s soon over, won’t be long

Till the price goes up again.


My teacher says I need a thing –

A scientific calculator.

They’ll sell them in the school tomorrow.

I need it now, not later.


These shoes have holes, look, right there.

You were right, they’re much too thin.

I need some dosh for another pair

And I’ll put these in the bin.


The latest film has just come out.

I know I have my pass,

But bus fare and McDonald’s

Requires a little cash.


Money’s tight,

I’m not being mean.


Well, go to that

Automatic machine.

You know the one, it’s in the wall,

Near the bank, outside tha mall.

The one where you insert the card

And someone throws you money.

Come on, Mum, we know you’re rich,

You have millions. Don’t be funny.


I’m goggle-eyed at innocence,

Such splendid fiscal ignorance.

A leaf I’m taking from their book.

I’ve purchased something. Have a look.

It’s planted there for all to see,

My magic growing money tree!

Shenanigans With Chores

 ‘I walked him last,

It’s your turn now!’

‘I dusted and I hoovered!’

‘Stop hiding in your bedroom.

I know all these manoeuvres.’


You have a chore, just do it,

Or do you like my voice,

Nagging at you, picking faults,

Like, ‘Clean up all you toys.’

Or, ‘Why is there a banana skin

Lying on your floor?

‘There’s mould in that there tea cup,

Sat behind your door.’


A sigh escapes their pursed up lips,

Tiny hands on narrow hips.

‘We forgot. We’ll do it now.’

Then thinks. I see the cogs

Turning swiftly, pistons up and down,

Like lily jumping frogs.

‘Could we finish this game first?

We have to save our place,

We’ve almost captured all the zombies.

Don’t want to restart the race.’


I sigh too. Well, childhood’s fast

And gone in too short time.

‘Well, get that zombie if you can.

Five minutes more is fine.

But, after that, pick up your room,

Grab a duster and a broom,

For my broomstick has quite an itch,

You know me, I’m quite a witch.

Five minutes more, or maybe ten,

Then I’ll fly up here once again

And use my magic on your butts

And on your pairs of feet.

You’ll hop and skip till all is done.

And then we’ll have a treat….

A trip to town,

Or to the park.

We’ll have some fun,

You know, a lark.

Some outdoor time

When chores are done…..

What’s that you say?

Your game can wait?

You’ll pick up now,

It’s getting late?’


‘Let’s get done, Mum,

Don’t delay.

There’s work first, then

We get to play.’


Still standing there, with mouth agape,

I barely see them zoom,

Hither, thither, seconds later,

The tidiest of rooms.


‘Well, come on, Mum, our hands are full

With rubbish and a cup.

Have you done yours yet?

We’re all ready.’

Well, blow me down

And, f***!


A tiny bribe,

A trip outside,

Mummy’s company.

A little glow

Begins to grow.

I’ll make pizza for our tea.


Well, it’s the little things that mean so much,

Tiny hands in mine,

Skipping through some pleasant days.

And the house? Ach, it’s just fine.

Pinky Promise

My 24 year old daughter ended a text conversation by asking, ‘Pinky promise?’

She wanted to be reassured that everything was good at home because of a number of blips that have been going on.

I was able to text back, ‘Pinky promise.x’, with a smile.

It is one form of promise that all my children hold dear to.

And all because we saw it in a movie many years ago. And I can’t remember which one.

The older kids have passed it on to the younger ones and they all take it so sincerely. Me too.


The Right to Rest

I Give In

I really, really do.

According to GMT, it is 4.45a.m.

This, of course means that,

Because I am tired and need to go to sleep,

All suffering has ended for the evening.

And I am so happy.

Because now I can go to sleep in the knowledge that:

No child is hungry,

No child is afraid,

No child whispers dark thoughts to another.

No child wishes for playdates and release from suffering.

I’m so glad that we’ve sorted out the



And only now,

I can rest.

In the knowledge that

All children are happy.

All children are created equal.


I apologise for the length of this post in advance. But it is a subject that riles me so much that I find it difficult to be too precise.


I cannot agree that there is an instinctive sadistic urge in us all.

I do agree that there are many people who have a distorted perception of the world. Their inability to empathise or, at the very least, sympathise with differing human conditions still manages to shock me to the core.

I see bullying in my workplace. Children on children, adults on adults, adults on children.

Thankfully, among the adults it is more rare. You expect ‘grown-ups’ to know better. Although that is not always the case.

I always, without exception, act on bullying that I am made aware of. And try to put preventative measures in place even where no bullying,apparently,exists.

Teaching young people to ‘walk in another’s shoes’ is one of the most valuable lessons I can give the children in my care.

I have questioned the need that some people seem to have for bullying another and, over the years, I have come to one or two conclusions.

Firstly, let me say, it is never acceptable. Never.

However, understanding motives behind actions does help to go some way in being able to effectively redress those actions.

In many cases, those bullied have been victims themselves, not necessarily in the same environment in which they perpetrate their crime.

Disclosure of facts by children and other bodies leads me to believe that many children are bullied at home. Sometimes by other siblings, sometimes by parents. Strict authoritarian rule, without the ability to negotiate anything and absolute adherence to the rules regardless of how ill-conceived they may be, can lead to rebellion. If unable to express it at home, it can become manifest in other areas of life.

The desire to exert control or power over someone else, when you have none yourself, is strong.

Seeing one parent bullying another is also too often the scenario children bear witness to on a day to day basis.

I have first-hand dealings with children whose inability to control temper is beyond description here. In most cases, it has eventually been revealed that their own home life experiences are a replica. They know no better example.

There are then children who ‘rule the roost’ at home. In these cases it is too little parental authority that is the root of the problem. They are given license to be as obnoxious as they wish. It is not what they need. It is not even what they want. They need boundaries. These children want boundaries to show that someone cares enough to exert them. There is, sometimes, on the part of a parent, the desire to instil so much confidence in their children, that they forget a couple of other life lessons. Like how to treat other people.

It’s a tough job but parents have got to do it.

I have heard,  more times than I care to think about, vitriolic comments that do not come from the school environment. These children are being taught, systematically or accidentally, to hate and ridicule in the same ignorant fashion as their parents. Football teams, religion and colour are usually high on the agenda.

Yes, and maybe- just maybe- there are some who are plain bad. I, personally, do not accept this as a generality. Dig deep enough and you will find the reasons.

Unfortunately, this all seems like little help to anyone being bullied. What does understanding motive have to do with dealing with the problem? How can knowing the possible or probable whys help with the very pressing hows? How to stop it? How to prevent it?

I am no expert on this subject. And there are behavioural psychologists out there who will have better advice to give on the subject of the whys and the hows.


I deal with children every day. I have taught for over thirty years. I have seven children of my own. One or two of them have been bullied at some point. I have been bullied in my life.

My advice to stop someone bullying you?

First, accept that this is not your fault. That’s right.

You do not deserve this.

You have not done anything to warrant being bullied.

Not your ears, not your eyes, not your nose, not your glasses, not your skin colour, not your religion, not your sexuality, not your geekiness, not your introversion, not your weight, not your intelligence, not your clothes, not because you play chess.


You do not deserve to be bullied.

By anyone.

So get that in your head, first of all. Bullying is not on.

Secondly, recognise, and I mean really recognise, that the bully is the one with the true problem here. True, as in psychologically disturbed.

Perceiving the world as they do is not considered normal by many, many people.

Now, how do you get them to stop?

Well, once you’ve acknowledged the first two and accepted them as fact, do this.

Lift your head up. Square your shoulders. Look straight ahead. Practise this first in front of a mirror, by all means. Now say,

‘I am God’s creation. Creation is beautiful. God does not make rubbish. I am His beautiful creation.’

And do you know what? You are. Whether you believe this or not. You absolutely are. Say it enough times. And stop criticising your own nose/spots/glasses/hair/weight/height/colour/whatever.

I really mean that. Stop it! And stop it now.

Walking about dejectedly, feeling ugly, not loving yourself can make you a target. You’re vulnerable.

What do bullies do? They pick on the most vulnerable. Or, at least, who they perceive to be vulnerable. Don’t make yourself a bullseye.

Now this is not a criticism of people who are bullied. It is merely an acknowledgement that those most likely to be bullied are those who appear to be the most vulnerable. Easy pickings, they think. A lot of bullies are cowards. They don’t want the challenge.

Paedophiles, questioned on how they picked their victims, responded that they could spot a target in a crowded room. Body language speaks volumes.

Get your head back up. You are not that person.

You are God’s beautiful creation. What are you?

‘I am God’s beautiful creation.’

Now shout it out loudly, somewhere, anywhere.


Belt it out!

Now some practical tips.

If someone says something to you, turn it back on them as a question.

It doesn’t have to be smart or witty or even sensible. It helps. But it doesn’t have to be.


Bully: Does your mother let you walk about looking like that?

You: Do you want to ask her yourself?

Bully: Are you trying to be funny?

You: Is it working?

Bully: I’ll waste you.

You: Would you like me to give you something else to waste?

Now, as I said, it doesn’t have to be smart or witty or even sensible. Just answer back with a question.

A question turns the tables and often leaves the bully too perturbed to know what exactly to do next.

And sometimes, the bully may come at you, fists flying.

My advice? Go mental back at them. You might not win this time but they will think again before tackling you if you have given as good as you got.

As a rule, I do not, absolutely do not, advocate violence. But. And, it’s a big but, sometimes it is your only tool.

All of the above can work for adults as well as for children.

Think about it.

You are in your workplace and someone – boss/colleague/bully is about to give you a hard time. Ask a question.

Boss: Have you finished that report yet?

You: Was it urgent?

Boss: Duhh, I needed it yesterday.

You: Would you like me to get on to it straight away or stay at this meeting?

Boss: Well, I need you here. So it will have to wait.

You: So, it’s not that urgent?

Have a retort ready. Anything.

When one of my children was being bullied I did not know. After I found out, I was devastated to think I had so badly misjudged his poor behaviour at home. I accused him of having no patience/control of his temper/consideration for others.

When I found out, through my daughter, that he was being bullied, my reaction was typical of most mothers.

I wanted to go up to that school and rip the neck off of the child/ren that was the source of my son’s unhappiness.

How dare they? How absolutely-fucking-dare they?

I’ll eat them alive.

You know? A measured approach.

I didn’t.

I would have lost my job/been arrested/restrained in a white jacket.

After all, I was the adult.

So, what did I do?

I listened.

I asked questions.

I got the whole story.

I thought.

I read up on bullying.

I studied it.

I swotted.

Obviously, this is the responsible human equivalent of ripping someone’s neck out.


Oh, then.

I put my son through a course on bullying.

We practised retorts and comebacks.

Sometimes, I was the bully and he had to give the retorts. Sometimes, he was the bully and I got to think up all the fabulous things I would say.

My daughter joined in.

She said she actually like when people came onto her because she never knew what she was going to say until she opened her mouth and was invariably delighted at her sarcastic wit. (She always has had a smart mouth on her.)

I am not trying to be flippant on a subject that is capable of making me imagine violence.

I have read posts on this site, too many posts, where young adults and older adults alike, suffer at the hands of people who amuse themselves with exerting power over others.

This subject gets to me in a way that a few others do. I imagine violence. Then I try to think smart.

Bullying is never, ever, ever acceptable.

Bullying is a way some people try to control their environment or people within it.

It affects children and adults.

We can choose how we react to their behaviour.

I choose never to accept it. I choose to always fight it with whatever means are at my disposal. I choose to bleed sometimes. I choose not to be a victim.

What do you choose?

And what are you going to do about it?

Slow Motion

Getting my two youngest out of the house in the morning is an exercise in patience and wonder. There’s a dreamlike quality to their pace. It’s as if everything is in slow motion. Spoons dip into cereal soooo slowly, lift mesmerised to mouths aaaaannnd…in. One mouthful.

They’ve already been up for an hour but it’s taken them forty minutes to appear downstairs. All they have to do is dress, for goodness sake. One school uniform each. How difficult is that. Apparently, really difficult.

Socks that ‘hurt my toes’. How? Why? I’ve checked these things out in the past and I just don’t see how anyone’s toes can be so sensitive that the seam across the toe of the sock ‘feels really jaggy/hard/rough/uneven/just sore.’ These are socks washed and final rinsed with fabric softener. The seam is just there. Socks have them.

‘I can’t find my shoes.’ They wore the blasted shoes last, they took them off in their room or were told to take them to their room. Is there a black hole somewhere in their room that swallows everything they need in the morning to be organised?

‘Where’s your schoolbag?’ ‘Umm.’

I’ve done this enough times to know that everything has to be organised the night before. But, despite my best efforts, they still end up rushing out of the door at five minutes to nine.

Thankfully, school is less than a five minute walk. But still. By the time they have left, I am shattered. I’m annoyed at my own impatience with them but more frustrated that every morning seems to follow the same slow progress.

I’m not here every morning to put them out to school. Sometimes their dad has the dubious pleasure. The same slowed-down movie occurs with him. So it’s not just me.

However, if I were to say, for example, ‘We’re going swimming/to McDonald’s/to the park’, you should see them move. Roadrunner isn’t in it.

So, maybe it’s only with school that they’re like this. And they enjoy school. God knows what they would be like if they hated it.

Blog Challenge

  1. Write a love poem and stop in the middle. Change the mood of the poem and see how it ends.

Fingers splayed lovingly

Across a swelling belly

Hands gently patting

The child

That was never born.

 2. If you could remove one thing, person, or place from this world what would it be? Would the intent be beneficial for everyone or just you?

Rats. They scare the bejaysus out of me. I’ve never felt right about the mere thought of them since reading James Herbert’s ‘Rats’ in my teens. Room 101 in ‘1984’ finished me off. I don’t suppose getting rid of them would help medical research much but it would pacify my phobia a lot.

 3. What is the saddest moment of your life? Describe your feelings when thinking on it. Not necessarily relating whatever is that makes you sad, but instead show us what sadness means to you.

No More            

Three months after the fact, realising all the no mores.

No more seeing her.

No more talking life over.

No more listening to her life stories for the millionth time

And always learning something new.

No more hearing her laugh uproariously at something so rude.

No more hearing her sing.

No more hugging her.

No more nana for my children.

 No more Mum.

 Feeling the void around me at the knowledge

 And knowing she was the one

  I always turned to.

  No more.

 4. Describe a happy memory of yours and try to recall something lost from it, or perhaps missed until now. Like when you rewatch a movie and see something for the first time.

Seeing the pride in my dad’s face and hearing it in his voice as he gave the father’s speech at my wedding. He wasn’t big on compliments as a rule and it was lovely to hear him speak so positively about his family. Making jokes about auctioning off my sisters for ‘two camels and a collie dog’ added to his lightheartedness at the time. He made a point of dancing with all his girls and my mum that night. He had more energy than we had all seen in a long time.

Six months later, he was dead.

I think he knew. I wish we had.

 5. What is more important reading the knowledge left by others or leaving our own opinions behind?

I don’t think I can separate the two. Reading and life experience have helped form my opinions and who I am and I hope that some of those have helped form my own children and those I teach. If I thought that nothing I did made any difference I would give up the ghost. Part of my job is to try to inspire a love of the written word. Some children genuinely don’t like reading and may never garner the knowledge found there. If I can pass it on, I hope it will help children learn to form their own opinions. I don’t think my opinions are more valid than anyone else’s but they’re usually informed and they matter to me. So, nope, I can’t separate the two.

 6. What motivates you? What truly inspires you to physically push forward and work harder? Is it a movie, book, person, or quote?

Any and all of the above. This morning you, OM, pushed me. I like a challenge. Or maybe I just like homework!

 7. When was the last time you said “that is just my opinion? ” Was it necessary to label a thought as simply your own? Do you still feel that way now?


See above. I don’t say ‘just my opinion’. It is mine so it matters to me. There’s no ‘just’ about it. I   may say, after heated disagreements, ‘Well, that’s what I think. We’ll just have to agree to differ.’ Then you can get on with life.


8. What is the most exciting place you have visited? Do you have a photo?

I remember excitement. That was before I married and had seven children and couldn’t afford to go anywhere exciting. Fun, I do. Sometimes. But excitement? Isn’t that what books are for?


 9. If you had the choice between the last names Butts and Pecker what would you take?

How about double-barrelled for twice the fun? Pecker-Butts. Butts-Pecker. And, if I had to choose one, what would my choice say about me?!


10. If you wrote my blog what types are articles are missing or would you still like to see?

You mean there’s something you don’t write about or have an opinion on? I’m still enjoying reading through all your posts. I think you must operate on rocket fuel. As fast as I read, you publish. If I exhaust all your posts and I notice anything missing I’ll be sure to drop you a line.

And thanks for the homework. I might have ended up doing washing or cleaning this morning. Instead of which I’ve sat on my proverbial and typed merrily. Cheers.

The Prodigal Son/Daughter – Revisited

The Prodigal Son/Daughter  (11-10-07)

There was once a woman who was left to raise her children on her own. She worked hard to try to make sure that the absence of a father in their lives would not mean that they went without. She gave them guidance and love and watched over them as if with the careful eyes of two parents.

Her youngest child got into a bad crowd and started to drink although he was too young to do so. He came home frequently too drunk to speak, except words of hurt and violence. He missed school and government bodies started to look closely at the parenting skills of the mother. They recognized that she was doing her best as her elder child was not giving her the same worries. They offered support and intervention but nothing seemed to penetrate the sense of the younger child.

Things went from bad to worse. Exam results were no good, attendance at school was at an all-time low and the police had even come calling; threatening her child with an anti-social behaviour order.

The mother cried and pleaded and prayed. One night, while the son was out drinking with some friends, they got into a fight with another crowd and some people were badly hurt. The younger child was stabbed in the leg and found by the police and taken to hospital.

The mother was called and rushed to the hospital where she kept a vigil by her son’s side until he awoke.

When he did he looked at his mother’s face and into her eyes and wept for the hurt he had caused her and the life he was leading.

On his release from hospital he went home and began to change his ways. His mother rewarded him with a laptop which she paid for so that he could study more easily and have another interest.

The elder son was angry at this and said,

‘You’re always saying how hard it is to manage on what you’ve got coming in. I give you what I can but he’s never given you a penny. Now you’ve taken out credit to buy something for him he doesn’t deserve. How is that fair?’

His mother held his two hands between hers and said,

‘You’ve never given me a moment of unnecessary worry. Your character is strong and with purpose. Your brother lost the plot for a long time and I thought he would end up in prison or dead. He’s with us again as he used to be – stronger now for what he has experienced. You both have all my love always. But when one needs me more than another, at a given time, it is that one whose needs I best try to fulfill. It takes nothing away from you and gives him the chance of a new life. And us too. For what would our lives have been with the loss of a son and a brother?’

The elder son cried and held his mother to him , understanding better the meaning of love.