Monday, 26 March 2012

Age of innocence

DD2 was fast asleep last night when I realised she hadn't put her phone on to charge and I asked DD1 to plug it in. Big sister couldn't resist having a sneaky peak at her messages and immediately reappeared looking horrified. A 'chat' had just come through from a boy in her class. It was a list of twenty 'options', with the instruction for her to choose the one she'd like him to do to her, or her to him, with the final reassurance 'choose whatever you fancy, I'll keep it between us'. I'm not going to list them here, and actually the only one I could list without using asterisks was "I want to play naked Twister with you" but suffice to say it shocked my worldly almost 14 year old.

I replied to this boy saying I'm DD2's mum and if I see any more messages like this I'll involve the school and his parents. He quickly deleted it, but not before DD1 had the presence of mind to screen grab it in case of repercussions. A quick call around showed that at least one other child received the same message but from a different boy.

I'm not naive. If DD1 had received it from one of her friends I'd have rolled my eyes (though she said she's never received anything that bad). But DD2 is only just 11 years old, for gods sake! And if we'd not seen it, that would have been the first thing she'd have been exposed to when she woke up this morning and sleepily checked her messages, as they do, to discuss such important things as who's taking their scooter to school. Instead I had to explain what happened, apologise for the invasion of privacy and warn her that the boy might say something at school. All of which she was fine with.

Thing is, I've given my kids all the advice I can about stranger danger and online safety, and their privacy settings are all on maximum, yet this boy is someone she sees every day and has done since she was four. However, it would be unfair to single him out if others are sending it around and I can only imagine what went through his little mind last night when I replied, especially as he knows me as a volunteer at a club he attends. The fact that others are sending it makes it worse. What is going on with our kids that this is seen as an acceptable form of fun at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night? When my brother was that age, the only chopper he was interested in had gears and wheels.

Much has been written about the early sexualisation of our kids and I'm not going to go into that here, but I want to believe these children don't send it it with full intention. Perhaps they think it makes them look cool. Or, it could be they've already seen enough of this stuff to be immune to it. If it is the latter, that's the greater concern for us all, frankly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The kindness of strangers

I just got a present in the post! It was completely unexpected and from someone I don't know. Actually, that's not strictly true. I feel I know her well - we've been through a lot in the past year or two as she's offered words of support and wisdom many times - but we've never met. She is one of my virtual friends. (In case you're wondering, she had my address from something I bought from her online shop last Christmas.) And this lovely Tweep decided to send me some things she knew I'd like 'just because'.

All I can say is they need to come up with some stronger words than thrilled and overwhelmed.

Want to see what I got?! I hope she won't mind if I show you. Inside layers of tissue and gingham ribbon were three beautifully wrapped presents and a card:

First thing I opened were these. They made me giggle out loud:

 The next I opened made me squeal. She made this herself and I'm learning to crochet:

 My final parcel made me catch my breath. I'd been admiring hers last week:

(It's a cushion cover.)

Then this, with lovely words inside which I'll keep just for me:

Even the paper made me smile. A pile of girly happiness:

The fact that my friend sent me gorgeous and thoughtful things she knew I'd love without warning or reason is only part of the story. The fact that she thought enough to take time out of her own stressful life to send them is the part that lifted my heart and made me realise just how much I have to be thankful for. And we've never even shared a cuppa. What a genuinely classy lady.

So, my little friend - you know who you are - I say a mammoth:


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and change my socks.

Monday, 5 March 2012

There must be a pony

"A mother had two sons: one who was always negative and afraid to try anything new, the other unfailingly optimistic and daredevil. Worried about the implications of her boys' extreme behaviour, one Christmas she carried out an experiment. For the son who would find fault with everything, she placed a bag of brand new toys under the tree. For the son who never saw bad in any situation, she gave a bag of horse manure.

On Christmas morning she heard her children rush downstairs and after a few moments joined them. The negative son sat amongst his new toys and sobbed. When his mother asked what was wrong, he replied "I'm worried that if I play with these toys, I'll break them or get hurt."

The mother turned to the second son who grinned from ear to ear as he pulled out handfuls of crap and dumped it on the floor. When his mother asked what he was doing, he laughed hard as he replied:   "With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!" "

I had my beloved 18 year old cat put to sleep at the weekend. The cat who was my baby long before the real ones came along. The cat my mum gave me for my 28th birthday. I know nothing lasts forever. I know she had a 'good innings', (I mean my cat, not my mum.) I even believe mum and my cat are together in spirit now. But after several years of receiving mainly dung whilst I try to remain positive and find the bright side of everything, I am ready for my pony now.