My Daughter is a Raptor

I think most parents with an aspie child have days when they look at their child and think “yeah, I’d probably do that too”, it’s just today I envied beanpole’s way of dealing with things being up in the air. Tonight that has taken the form of her being a raptor & it’s making her happy. (School project has allowed her to immerse herself in her favourite subject since the age of 2. Dinosaur knowledge is way beyond stuff I know). I have chest pain…. She’s being a raptor. Frankly, I reckon she’s coping much better!

It’s been a weird old week. Beanpole went off to a school residential camp, I’ve had a course outsude of school alongside long evenings with open days for new students & our usual weekend routine got turned upside down.

By Friday I was coming apart at the seams. My personal limit was found when I eventually found where beanpole was staying (5 minutes further than I had anticipated), found a dodgy parking spot and was promptly told to move. There was nowhere else to park. I tried to reason, but instead had to do a 12 point turn and drive back up the single track road until I found a bush soft enough to park the car in so I wasn’t blocking the road. This wasn’t the plan. Now I was late. I’m a professional adult who has been reduced to tears because I didn’t know where to park my car. In fact I hadn’t quite pulled myself together by the time I joined the other parents. A few excuses about work being full on….

At least it’s the weekend. We have a routine. But not this weekend,  because seeing as I’ve been ill for two weeks and have barely stopped we’re going to cram extra stuff into the weekend on top of the 10 hours of prep/marking that I’m attempting to get done. Our standard family dinner where we discuss the week went out the window, so now I’m already unprepared for Monday. The less organized I feel, the tighter my throat feels and the more I feel like running away and hiding under a blanket.  Or more realistically,  stamping my feet publicly and shouting at everyone to do what they are meant to be doing & stop changing things (translated in my head as why are you acting like arseholes? Can’t you see this is driving me mad? )

This is all sounding very familiar.

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I think this suggests I’m back to being anxiety girl (with the superpower of blowing things out of proportion! )… and I secretly know where beanpole gets it from.

I’d much rather be a raptor than me right now.

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The Good Book

So, recently on Facebook I was sent a link to a blog post which has taken me a full 24 hours to digest and reel from.

This post was entitled ‘Six (+2) Reasons NOT To Send Your Daughter To College

This was never going to sit well with me was it? Really? But I read it, hoping that it may just be a positive post about things you can do with a vocational qualification. Oh how wrong I was. And this post offended me on multiple levels.

Disclaimer – the following is just my rather ranty opinion.

Firstly, the owner of this site claims to be Catholic (and yes, with a big C). No right minded Catholic would propagate the ‘women are just baby making machines’ tripe. Women are equal and by holding a job, we do not devalue our wombs. There is absolutely no Catholic dogma that prevents women from working, unless it’s as a priest or the Pope.

Secondly, as you might’ve guessed, it offends me as a woman. The sections in the bible that are quoted are referencing the family dynamic from the Middle East TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO. It was the norm for women to run the household, and they did so through their extended family. It was also the norm to bake unleavened bread over an open fire and live in tents which were regularly moved around – should we do that now? I have a mind, and I’m not afraid to use it! Try telling Ada Lovelace that women can’t contribute to the male dominated environment (guys, without her you wouldn’t even have the Internet to spread your unpleasant message on).

Thirdly, it offends me as a wife. I am in an equal partnership with my husband and as such do not need to be subservient to him. Frankly, if I was, we’d have a lot more gadgets in the house and a lot less food! That also doesn’t mean that he doesn’t work hard to provide for his family. In a society where financially we both need to work, we are a team.

Finally (ok, not finally, but I need to stop ranting eventually), it offends me as a mother. I have two beautiful, intelligent daughters who will go to any educational establishment of their choosing and I trust that our parenting will set them up to make rational choices about the relationships that they get into whilst they are there. Girls can absolutely make rational choices (this hormonal lynx effect that you speak of is just a guise for bad choices without placing the responsibility firmly in the hands of the participants) and if they mess up, then we’ll be there to help them pick up the pieces. That’s called parenting. Hiding your child away at home away from the world in case they meet someone you don’t approve of is no different from the enforced wearing of a veil. If anything more so – how will these sheltered children grow up to be self-sufficient? Or is that the plan? If you place trust in your child, mostly, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

So, having ranted in full, I have decided to answer this blog post with a song. This is not Catholicism, your post is terrifying Bible Belt America claptrap which is fueling the world’s fear of the mental health of Americans in general. (Sadly, this type of thing is creating a stereotype which is not true of many).

It’s about style, not fashion. (Said no daughter, ever. But eventually she might…)

My afternoon to myself has consisted of sorting the kids clothes into various piles:

1. Too big for beanpole
2. Too small for beanpole, but too big for Tinypants
3. This will fit them this summer if it ever comes
4. Too small for Tinypants

The first three piles have gone into vacuum bags to be stored away, while pile 4 is in a bag waiting to go on to the next child in the line. And of course the cat feels he is helping in his own special way…

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This is a valuable tradition within friends and family of passing the kids clothes on when they haven’t worn holes in the knees. If the clothes are still good, a friend can always benefit from a bag of ‘stuff’. The recipient then keeps the bits they need and passes the rest to a charity shop. When their munchkins grow out of the clothes, the cycle starts again.

We have not yet got to the point where the kids object to the idea of hand me down clothes, and whilst they are developing their own unique styles (even at age 7 & 8!), they already understand the value of upcycling clothes rather than buying new wardrobes every season.

Tinypants possibly has more of an issue with this as she is in a set of friends who are mainly the eldest child from middle class families who are quite focused on their physical appearance (at age 7!!). The poor kid is doomed living with parents who are of the breed who worked out their own fashion and couldn’t give two hoots what people thought. I still happily wear giant flares that I made combined with bright red hair and smartie nails (5 different colours). LSH spent his youth in massive skater jeans combined with some sort of offensive tshirt (this was reigned in a bit once the kids could read) and a giant Mohawk. He ended up a lot more sensible once he landed a decent job, but as he works at home most days while he’s developing SharePoint stuff I cannot claim to understand, he does indulge in some particularly dubious Hawaiian shirts. Poor Tinypants is trying to find her place in the world with very normal friends whilst still being happy in her oddball family. It can’t be easy learning that harsh lesson that girls are often obsessed with the perception of who they are rather than just getting on with being them. Hell, it took me nearly 25 years to work that one out!

So why is the hand me down cycle so important for a child’s mental health? Well, for a start, it is a lesson in valuing those around you by receiving loved items, but also by giving them away. But also, it’s a lesson in making the most of what you have. Not everything is about fashion, but style is important – and stylish isn’t always fashionable. But stylish is you.

Oh, and mummy isn’t made of money!