Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stone Hairdressing in the Modern Age

Friends, you may know I rail against needless consumerism, especially for kids, but the flip side is when my children's pals come for play dates, I have the occasional pang of demi-guilt that the toys in our house may not match the cascade of Argos-y plastic delights in other kids' bedrooms. 

Hence I was glad to see yesterday's improvised game: Stone Hairdressing. Simply pick your favourite stone from the garden, take it up to the bathroom sink, shampoo it, towel dry it (with a facecloth) and blow dry it. Add toy hairspray and brush to finish. Praise its beauty and show it to your mother. Ta daa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God Help The Boy

I had a relaxed lunch in the window of Little Italy with Stuart who was just back from his globe-trotting B&S tour.

I asked him if his film, God Help The Girl was playing anywhere and he told me it was playing near his hotel in an Australian city. He couldn't get to sleep thinking that the projectionists might not be playing it loudly enough, so he pulled on his clothes - on top of his pyjamas - and walked down to ask the ticket booth girl if they could screen it at the right volume. She invited him in for a cup of tea, but he declined and went back to his hotel more able to rest. Ah, the old pyjama-under-clothes mission. It sometimes pays off.

On other matters, I am enjoying my new part-time job as a 'fieldworker' with Glasgow Uni's Medical Research Council. It doesn't involve Wellies, but I wouldn't mind if it did. There is still a lot of the island girl in me.

Well, look at the time.  We have barely had a minute to chat and it is school pick-up time already. A bien tot, as we used to say in French.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The jury is out

I love the kind of random waiting-room chat you get in Glasgow. After a week of sitting round the Sheriff Court, as a potential juror, I wasn't picked to be on the actual jury, which was fine by me.
The woman who sat beside me most of the week was warm and friendly. She said:
Oh, here, I'm glad I met you. It's fair put the time in. And, d'you know, you look dead like a women in my work - one of the psychologists. You're the image of her. And she's really high up.
We discussed always being hungry - I had sandwiches in my bag that I started eating at 10.15 am, although we were both thin. She told me that she once bought three Mars bars for a pound and ate them all. I looked surprised. I'm not finished yet! she said, adding that she ate two Double Deckers afterwards.
That's mental, I said, (worrying that I was using un-PC language).
That is mental! she exclaimed, pleased to bond further.
Her dog has it's own Facebook page

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year, Cowboys and Ice Queens.

Well, did the rain not lash itself about today?

In my cabin fever, I suggested to the kids that we try and make a wee film, although I didn't feel particularly confident in my Spielberg aspirations.

Hugh wanted to be a cowboy and make it a cowboy film. What will you be, Tess? I asked. Western barmaids in frilly skirts flashed through my mind, but I didn't want to be gender-limiting. I needn't have worried. Can I be the spikey plant? she replied.

Seconds later, she decided she'd rather be an ice queen from Frozen. Funny that. BAFTA Scotland need not concern itself with the end results.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas 2014

The terrible tragedy in George Square yesterday makes us hold each other more dearly. This is a short poem I wrote about my son's Nativity, a week ago.

Primary Two Nativity  

When my son needs encouraged again
to go to school, I mention the play.
He says he is tired of singing
and tired of dinging 

but when I see the row
of tea-toweled shepherds
holding triangles high
I scan for him, lost without his blonde hair 

and in the micro seconds it takes
to recognise his face (there!)
my throat catches and I am falling again,
comet-like, whooshing with love
and he might as well be Jesus,
born anew to me each day.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tantrums in 6 year olds - how to play it?

As the children grow, I enjoy that they are more open to reason and the days of irrational strops are over. And then, one of them blindsides me with a nuclear tantrum and I am left questioning whether I do, in fact, meet the essential criteria for being a parent.

Yesterday, Hugh and I had a fight over 'the wrong apricot'. It became a nerve-jangling battle of wills. I stuck to the received mantra of,  don't back down, you can never back down, you will look weak, they will win and behave abominably, whenever they feel like it.

We were locked down in a stalemate of misery, much like most of world politics. He wailed and screamed and sobbed because I stopped him grabbing a 'different' dried apricot from the tub, while shoving back one he had already pawed (with playground hands). He had several on his plate, plus other after-school snacks.

I tried to stick to plan A and put the apricot tub in a high cupboard. Did I have any idea this would lead to an hour of white rage? 'Course not. But half an hour in, I couldn't lose ground, could I?! Super Nanny and orthodox wisdom were yelling, 'hold firm, woman!'

Yet he was distraught - refusing to eat anything, sobbing on the floor. Crying. Kicking. In and out of The Naughty Porch.  I offered stop-gap compromises (cashews or pistachios?). So West End. But he was locked in to his position, almost helpless, exhausted after school. My own nerves were jangled and I was desperate to help him, without 'giving in' to 'bad' behavior.

So, next time - for there will be one - I wondered about unilateral disarmament. Saying, okay, I know you are doing an expert Horrid Henry impersonation, but I'll give you one chance. IF I let you swap apricots, then you must start to behave. Because behave-and-*then*-we-will-consider- apricot-swapping was failing spectacularly.
It reminded me of the years when I shared a room with my sister. I was always the one who got out of bed to turn out 'the big light' after reading. One night I refused, and asked her to do it. She's not a Taurean for nothing. An hour later, I stumbled over to the light switch, defeated, crying. We laugh at it now.

A battle-of -wills eats up time. Maybe I'll try allowing the 'right' apricots and then set up some other part 2 sanction. If you don't behave post-apricot swap, I swear I will..., have to think of something. Dear readers, I will let you know.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Love Letter to Your Local Library via The Scottish Book Trust

Dear Hillhead Library,

The Scottish Book Trust may have prompted my letter of appreciation to you, and they are right to do so - like a good parent reminding a child to say please and thank you.

I do thank you, Hillhead Library for all that you give. You are the big, rectangular heart of Byres Road. I feel an instant physical relief when I  sweep through your automatic doors into the vault of books and quiet people and 70’s geometric carpet. Ah, the warm community air, the space to think and explore. An egalitarian place, free of commercial exploitation. What a rare and precious thing.

Books are free to read for those who can’t afford them. They can be requested, ordered, or just browsed. What a liberating and reassuring feeling this is. Indeed, what a relief.

And your staff are friendly and helpful. The ‘man with the curly hair’ is a true librarian. Nothing is too much trouble and he has time for the children and is patient when books are renewed until we find them again at the bottom of a toy box.

When I attended the excellent, ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ with my baby son, it became the social highlight of the week, (new mum-pals all going for coffee and chat afterwards). As we sat in the library singing, ‘If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands’, I clapped my son's chubby hands together and, yes, I was happy to the point of tears.

Hillhead Library, let us cherish you, celebrate you and, -most of all - never forget your true value to society.

Yours Sincerely,  

Ciara MacLaverty.