Archive for October, 2008

Halloween – Trick or Treat?

October 30, 2008

When did Halloween get so big?  When I was a kid all it involved was ducking apples and valiant efforts to hack a lantern out of a swede because no one grew pumpkins over here.    Now of course the shops are stuffed with pumpkins and witches’ outfits, plastic skulls and spiders and all manner of spooky stuff and we have so much Halloween paraphernelia  in our house that we have a special box for it which is kept in the attic right next to the one for the Christmas decorations. 

I blame E.T.  That movie let the (black) cat out of the bag for a generation of British kids who twigged that over there in America Halloween was a really big deal where everyone got to dress up and hustle sweets from their neighbours.    My kids, born L. A.E.T. (Long After E.T.) think of Halloween as the starter in the menu of treats that Winter brings, leading on to Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas (lasts about a month nowadays) Happy New Year and Valentine’s Day before hey presto it’s Spring again.   They love trick or treating although we are very polite and only ever call at houses that have pumpkins outside.

This year with Halloween falling on a Friday it’s an even bigger event.  My son’s self defence class on Friday has been cancelled because all the kids are going to Halloween parties.    All this makes for a lot of work for Superwomen everywhere – pumpkins to carve, sweets to buy, costumes to sort out -but I’m one of those who thinks of Halloween as trick not treat.  It’s getting colder and the clocks have gone back but those pumpkin lanterns (much easier to work with than swedes) look so very cheerful, the children are all excited and who doesn’t like an excuse to throw a party, dress up and eat sweets?  So go on!   Put a pumpkin out.

Welcome to Superwoman’s blog

October 28, 2008

The blogs on this page are written by a number of different (but real!) women with views or comments or hints and tips they’d like to share.  We all of us know that there’s no such thing as Superwoman.  We’re just women trying to be Super.  If you have a blog of between 500 and 1000 words you’d like to share with us please send it to us at info@superwoman.org.uk  Your blog should be on an anonymous basis.

Too young to have text?

October 28, 2008

Last Christmas my mother in law told me she had bought my eight year old son a mobile phone.  It was only a £10 pay as you go phone but I asked her not to give it to him.   I felt primary school was too young to have a phone.   I was 25 before I had my first mobile phone for heaven’s sake!   He was dropped off at school every morning and picked up from afterschool club at night.   What did he need a phone for? 

Less than a year later I  changed my mind.  We moved house and my son changed school.  The new school didn’t have an afterschool club.  A new and complicated system of after school care was devised involving my son getting the bus to school each day and two sets of grandparents, a part time nanny and a wonderful cleaner who doubles up on a Thursday as childminder.   With such a patchwork of people looking after him I asked my Mum in law could she please give him that phone after all.

He was delighted to receive it.  With a minimum of training from his Dad he had grasped not only how to use it but how to use the address book, the ring tones and the basics of texting, hardly suprising given that he’s been playing Nintendo DS since he was six and is much better at Sky plus than me.    I felt comforted by knowing that if he missed the school bus he could phone any one of the people in that address book and all would be well.  Of course I felt the twinge of guilt that comes as standard with being a working mum.  If I was taking him to school every morning and picking him up at 3.15pm every day he wouldn’t need to worry about missing the bus would he? 

Last week my son sent me his first text.  Four little words I’ll remember for ever.  Not “I love you Mum.” Not even “Why do you work?.”  This is what my nine year old sent. 

 “I forgot my kit.”

So I got in the car, made myself late for work and took his kit down to the school.

And a few hours later I got my second text.  “Ths Mum for bringing my kit lv u.”

Which proves in my view that he’s not too young to have text.

Little Superwomen

October 6, 2008

 My four year old daughter has since around the age of two and a half expressed very strong views on the issue of clothes and personal appearance generally.  This is in stark contrast to my 10 year old son who still doesn’t care much what he wears.  His criteria are that his clothes should be unremarkable and comfy, with plenty of give around the waist.   He is just about well behaved enough that if someone gives him a gift of clothes he can manage a thank you when I know what he really wants to do is to hand them back saying But these are clothes!  Where’s my real present?

If you give my daughter clothes she will jump up and down and clap her hands in excitement.  She will try them on, right there and then.  One of her favourite pastimes is making up stories that involve shopping trips with her two cousins to Marks and Expensive (her words) where they each buy princess outfits with knickers that match and then wear them to the café where they eat cottage pie.  Pink has the leading role in these stories.   Purple sometimes gets a supporting role and hearts, butterflies and sparkles make walk on appearances but as a general rule these three little girls are flouncing around M & S dressed head to toe in pink because my daughter really really loves pink.

So do little girls only like pink because of being brainwashed by cynical and stereotypical marketing campaigns and shelves stocked only with mountains of pink things?  Or do they naturally just like pink and the cynical manufacturers capitalize on that to increase sales?  Based on my experience it is the latter.  Little girls instinctively love pink and they always have.  My daughter has recently picked up a phrase from her grandmother that she now says at every available opportunity, partly because it makes her father wince when she does.  Pink she announces when she gets dressed in the morning.  Pink to make the boys wink.    And it’s not just pink she loves.  She also loves dressing up and jewellery and make up and tea parties.  She lines all her dollies up on the sofa whereas her brother at her age lined toy cars and trucks up on the window sill.  I’m fairly convinced that these differences do just come down to nature.  Boys and girls are different, right from the start, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking pink.

I have more reservations about my daughter’s princess obsession or more specifically her obsession with the Disney Princess franchise.  Officially there are eight Disney Princesses (with a ninth, Princess Tiana, due in 2009 who will be Disney’s first black princess) but when my daughter got a Disney Princess doll pack for Christmas it featured only six of them– Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella. Ariel, Belle and Jasmine.  Pocahontas and Mulan are presumably not princessy or pink enough for the Princess Pack and I do wonder whether Tiana will manage to break into the line up.   Leaving to one side any racism issues that lurk here, the fact is that the six princesses in my daughter’s princess pack are very wet.  They mostly hang around cleaning or sleeping waiting for their prince to come and this is what really bugs me about them.  I don’t mind the tiaras, I don’t mind the high heels, I don’t mind the pretty gowns.  I don’t even mind the one true love romantic stuff because actually I believe in all that.  What I do mind is the lolling around doing nothing while they wait for that true love to turn up.  I really mind that Mulan, the only one of the princesses who has any get up and go about her, gets left out.

I have no intention of spoiling my daughter’s princess and pink phase.  She’s having fun and I’m enjoying watching her.   I do make sure that Dora the Explorer (nice chubby Mexican girl, still wears pink but solves lots of problems) and Clarice Bean (very opinionated little girl who wears funky clothes) at least get a look in round and about the princesses.  And when I’m reading a princess bed time story I change the plot just a bit.  The princesses still get dressed up, there is still a lot of pink and they still get their man at the end.  But in my versions, instead of sitting around under apple trees or on their hands and knees scrubbing floors, my princesses are out there in their tiaras and high heels kicking ass and being vets and lawyers and teachers and mothers.    Because I believe in Superwoman.  Do you believe in Superwoman?  Clap your hands if you do.