Dear Daughter.

Dear Daughter, Granddaughter, Great Granddaughter and all my daughters beyond my mathematical capacity. I hope this in some way is passed on to you:

Look not upon us as supressed women. Don’t look down upon us as the subjugated ones. There will come a time wherein you will read our stories and consider them and us to be ridiclous. Pray God I hope so. There will be a time teenage girls, my Granddaughters who will reel in horror at the mere thought of violence and rape. There will be a time when you will cringe at these atrocities as we shudder at medieval totrture and the treatment of those women accused of witchcraft.

Dearest daughter, please don’t judge us for what we did succumb to and please do not take on our anger and angst. This is not your baggage. It is however your fight, to continue in a respectful way; not in our name, but in your own honour!

I am so so sorry I have told you my past. I am so sorry I have disclosed a life of horror to you that you wouldn’t have been subjected to if I’d simply been your mum. But I never wanted to be just a mum! I held you in my arms after giving birth to you and said; “Hello my girl, I’m your mum”; rightly or wrongly, all I’ve ever been is me! And all I’ve ever done is my best to ensure you were never sullied by life.

I failed my love, I failed when I told you the truth of life. I failed when I told my story. I failed when I treated you as a friend. I failed when I trusted you. But then did I?

You have judged and scorned. You have belittled in the same way as the abusers. But in that I have seen your passion, your anger, your disgust, your strength. Beneath all your angst, I see my girl! I love you and am forever proud of you. We have our moments, but I see you and I hear you!

Daughter, don’t be so hard on me. You’ve supported me through so much that no child should ever be faced with and we are now woman to woman as we are now woman to woman with every woman on this planet. You as a little girl nursed me through cancer. You healed me. You were there with my mum and dad and you did make me better! You are more than my world.

I made damned sure you were never hurt, I made damned sure of that. If you ever were, I had no say in it. You were never hurt under my watch! Be easy on me petal.

I pray for you women with the ‘banter’ you fight against and the new abuse you shun. As young women please remember, my generation made divorce more commonplace.

You dearest daughter will always be my pride and joy. My hope for the future of women. You are the best thing that has happened to me. You are all I have. You are all I trust and the ultimate love I’ve ever felt. You have to forgive me for not giving two hoots over my life because you are my life and future and I forgive you everything, be happy, be content and know and believe we are strong women!

Daughter, you are going to be the mouthpieces to the daughters I’ve not yet met and will never meet. Tell them the stories and let’s pray to God they will be as distant stories as are those of the dunking stool.

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I Told You So!

We have all probably at some point in our lives had the words, ‘I told you so’, thrown at us by someone who thought they knew better! Some people take immense pleasure that borders on the sadistic, in telling us they told us so. Others tell us so rather nonchalantly. I have been told so in my life and fortunately it’s been in a caring manner. However, I haven’t been told so lots of times because when it comes to serious issues that perhaps a ‘I told you so’ warrants, I have sought advice in the first instance.

When I was pregnant, many years ago, as many young mums to be do, I daydreamed about how I would bring my child up. How wonderful my child would be. The places I would take her to. The manners she would have. The books she would read. The instruments she would play. The perfect marriage she would have. I dreamed all this and I wished all this and I was determined all this would happen for my little girl. I knew how to do it! I would be the best parent in the world. The Virgin Mary herself would have close competition now I had conceived!

After nine months of constant sickness and feeling grim I was very fortunate to have a very quick and easy labour. I held my little baby girl and thought, ‘shit’! What the heck and how the heck do I do it now! Whilst she was safely tucked up in my womb I had it all sussed out! I was a brilliant parent! In that nine month long daydream it was perfect and she turned out to be the main asset to the world! She sorted out terrorism, world poverty, diseases, you name it my perfect child did it. All due to, of course, my spectacular parenting skills. Oh yes!

My mum came to me very shortly after I’d given birth. She appeared with an arm full of terry nappies and assured me these were best. A little more bother but better for baby and more eco-friendly and cheaper. I didn’t question her. She knew. There are many more incidents over the years where my mother and father gave me advice and I took it without question. Advice concerning my child. A child isn’t a gamble. We can’t take wagers over anything that concerns a child.

I listened to them and I took their advice not only because they were older and wiser but because they have brought up children. They have spent many years working with children and are fully aware of the whole amalgam of issues regarding children. As a parent, an Aunty, Godmother, Great Aunt and many years of being a teacher, I have gained a lot of knowledge. Throughout my years as a young mum there were issues I had to address with my girl. I always listened to people because my girl was and is far too important for pride to get in the way of what is best for her. When she went through some difficult phases (Goodness knows why) I listened to my parents, my cousins and her teachers. I was never going to take the risk of anyone saying to me at a later time; “I told you so”.

Sadness is too weak a word to use when I speak to some parents and the words, ‘I told you so’ are on the tip of my tongue. The parents who have fiercely defended their child in Year 7. The parents who have been adamant that I pick on their child. The parents I have at times lost patience with and said; “You’re not doing her any favours defending her like this”. To which they have complained about me or have simply continued to support their child in this belief that I’m unreasonable. I have a mixture of anger, despair and abject misery when these same parents speak to me a couple of Year groups later and ask for help. When they tell me how difficult the child is being at home. How uncooperative the child is in all lessons. They defended their child from authority and it bites back.

Please God give all parents an innate capacity to listen to those who have seen and heard it all. I can’t begin to count how many children I have taught over the years; how many issues I have dealt with. My own child didn’t turn out to be this wonderful Metahuman. Why? Because none of us are. I took advice even at times when I wasn’t totally convinced but I knew the people giving me advice had much knowledge and experience and she is doing just fine.

It is heartbreaking that as every September approaches, a new intake arrives and the same old cycle begins and teachers across the world know that the time will come again and our souls will be haunted with the words; ‘I told you so’.

Corporal Punishment?

The issue regarding corporal punishment has reared its head again recently. The question being; should corporal punishment be brought back into schools? It’s a debate that fascinates me. I was born in 1967 and corporal punishment was administered. I never experienced this myself but recall my brother who is four years older than me telling me he; “Got the cane”. My mother has also recalled to me an incident in which she received the cane on her hands for screaming when a wasp stung her during a lesson. Both my brother and my mother have never held any malice towards the perpetrators of this punishment and they do not appear to be traumatised by it!

 

As a child I received the odd ‘clip round the ear ole’, and I maintain a perfectly loving and respectful relationship with my parents and always did. It never did me any harm. I was never beaten senseless and at the time and at this time, I knew it was fair.

 

I brought my own child up in very much the same manner as I was reared. A short sharp slap! I have discussed this over the years with my daughter and with various people who have represented an amalgam of views. I have argued that there is no room or time for discussion when a ten month has crawled to a plug socket and is about to stick its finger in it. A little tap on the said finger immediately followed by the simple word ‘no’, has always seemed quite reasonable to me. There are some things that simply do not need to be discussed with a child. My personal opinion is that we discuss far too much with children.

 

In the animal kingdom (It’s interesting we seem to separate ourselves from that), juveniles are disciplined by the whole pack or pride or whatever and this involves varying degrees of corporal punishment. They do not have huge riots, youngsters know their place and more beautifully, the elders are revered and respected. Is that an argument in favour of corporal punishment?

 

We have to distinguish between corporal punishment and domestic corporal punishment. The latter being when parents can physically punish their children. What I find most interesting is that the issue regarding poor pupil behaviour in schools is finally being acknowledged in the debating arena and people are actually suggesting backward steps which is what corporal punishment would be.

 

As a teacher, although I am appalled by poor behaviour I could never support or condone corporal punishment in schools. Neither now could I condone domestic corporal punishment. If I had a young child now I think I would be very reluctant to go for the short sharp slap tactic. Why? Because children seem to rule the world now and from what I see the hierarchy that is still strongly visible in other animal communities has sadly been demolished in our society. Political correctness, the suing culture and the very hazy area of ‘rights’ has totally diminished our senses!

 

There have been many debates regarding the ‘Nanny State’ that some people claim is what we are increasingly living under in the UK. However, we all want problems sorted out but there is a reluctance to define roles. Who exactly should sort out an ill-mannered and ill-disciplined child? Teachers? The government? Dare I suggest parents do it? Is that unreasonable?

 

I feel that too many people do not see or realise what teachers experience on a daily basis. All the issues that you see on the news, read in articles etc. we are there dealing with all this under immense pressure. Ideally, teachers should not have to consider discipline! All children should come to school and understand how to behave. If they don’t it really is quite clear-cut as to why. Do I have to point out its inadequate parenting?

 

So, we can’t go back into the dark ages and give kids a good old slap! Schools and colleges and babysitters are accountable to OFSTED so how about parents suffer OFSTED?  This would cost millions. But, how about OFSTED scrutinises ALL parents first and leave the schools alone for a while so we can get on and teach. I know some areas where an OFSTED inspector would be eaten alive, but hey that would make it more entertaining! In fact, let’s go down that path and have all inspections filmed!

 

So the results could involve a family being graded as excellent through to being closed down! Social workers would have hell of an easier time too! Or put the family in Special Measures? Better still turn the family into an Academy and have some super parents or Jo Frost storm in, sack the parents and take over. It’s 21st century foster care but let’s give it a try because everything else is failing! More interesting still, how many people particularly those in power, would then object to such scrutiny and have more sympathy and indeed empathy for us teachers?

To All The Fatherless Children!

I love Shakespeare. Really, I love him, I love his works too! But I love him! It’s so wrong because he’s dead. I love Thomas Hardy too and he’s dead! That’s wrong too! You see, it’s wrong because I love them in a fancy them kind of way. But they’re dead. My daughter forever reminds me that it’s wrong!  But bitchily ( Is there such a word?) , I list her past boyfriends and argue that they were sooo wrong! Then she does the same to me, and she’s right!  So we reluctantly submit, it’s ok for me to fancy Will and Tom!

A Midsummer’s Night Dream has always been my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays and I’ve always been haunted by the enchanting oration of the king of the fairies himself:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk roses and with eglantine.

But I know a place where such beauty also exists. I have seen this place, I teach in this place. I created such a place when I held my baby girl  for the very first time.  This is a place where there are no judgements. This is the place where you are loved. This is the place where you are taught.  Yes, this is your school.

Whatever judgements others may make there are the Oberons and Titanias who endeavour to make your experiences magical. There are happy endings, but you have to make them.

Who are we then?  We are your teachers. We are your mentors. We are your parents. We are your people. Some centuries ago we’d be your tribe but funnily enough also, your parents, your teachers, your mentors!  Little changes really except technology and perceptions.

“My dad is in prison Miss”.  “I don’t know my dad Miss, I’ve never met him”.  “My dad’s a bastard Miss, my mum said so”.  “I haven’t got dad Miss”.  “My dad is dead Miss”.  This is what I hear on a daily basis.  It breaks my heart.  I crumble to nothing inside because in every town and county I’ve ever lived and taught in I know a place; ‘Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows’, and sometimes, in fact many times, that place is seen in the very eyes of those fatherless children. That’s where I see the magic.

I have seen this exact magic in my own daughter’s eyes when I used to take her to the local woods and we bowed to the sun and curtseyed to the moon because we didn’t just believe fairies live there, we knew they did. I saw that magical place when she first asked me, the dreaded question; “Why haven’t I got a dad?”.

I pathetically replied, albeit logically; “We haven’t got enough room for one”.

It was magical she accepted that for some time.  But we knew a bank; ‘Where the wild thyme blows’, so we didn’t care!  But then time and age carries out its cruel destiny and sullies us all.  I had to give ‘real’ answers.  I had to tell her basically she was fatherless!  A bastard?  When in actual fact the bastard was the man who ‘did one’ when I was seven months pregnant.

Did it harm her? Did it affect her life?  Of course it did. But it’s her life. It was our life and it was our normality.  We travelled around Europe. She’s covered quite a few countries in her young life.  She’s lived in poverty with me!  She’s seen things a child shouldn’t see. But she’s loved and she knows that!

Twenty one years hence, to all the fatherless children, we don’t care loves, it doesn’t have to rule your life.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been brought up without a father. But I brought a girl a up without one, and you know what, it’s ok.  To all you mothers without the fathers, so what, tell your children the truth according to what they can understand at whatever stage they are at.  It’s not ideal but it’s ours and their life and we have nothing to be ashamed of.

To all the fatherless children, in whatever circumstances that have made you fatherless, love what you have, accept what you have and be good for your mum! We didn’t plan it this way! But you know, ‘With sweet musk roses and with eglantine’, there is a magical place for us all where if we choose to go there we can recite the words of  Thomas Hardy and remember;

‘I am the family face;

Flesh perishes, I live on,

Projecting trait and trace

Through time to times anon,

And leaping from place to place

Over oblivion.’

Not having a father does not mean you do not have a family and a whole support system out there.

It’s A Crying Shame!

Did you make anyone cry today? Did you break their soul? Did you demean them? Did you send someone over the edge? Did you humiliate somebody? I hope you can answer no to all of these. I hope I can. The horrid reality is, I can’t answer accurately because I don’t know. You don’t know either!

Recall your day. Recall every second of every dialogue. Recall every facial expression. Mimic your body language. What have you said? How did you say it? Really, backtrack your whole week. Remember every single thing you did and said etc.

Can you not do this? If you are a teacher you have to learn to do this. More than learn, you simply have to do it! Examine all that you may have taught and said. Why? Because you are in the public arena. Not only in this brutal arena, you are on trial constantly. If the Romans saw school’s brutal systems today, my God they’d be impressed! They were amateurs! Teaching can be analogous to being a gladiator in the ring or an early Christian thrown to the lions.

We compose parental reports regularly but wouldn’t it be refreshing if we composed daily or weekly reports? Dear parent, your child has reduced me to tears three times this week. Your child has made me cry! Your child has disrupted every lesson and I have no power to do anything. Your child has prevented a lesson from flowing and thus taken away the right of other students and their right to an education. Your child has sworn at me. Your child has been downright rude and I phoned you and talked to you and you laughed and said you’d; “Have a word”. Your child has humiliated me at my place of work!

What did I do? I attempted to teach a lesson. I took all your childs needs into consideration. I spent my weekend planning this lesson. I researched it. I talked calmly and professionally. I did my utmost to model reasonable behaviour. Despite previous problems I put them aside and most of all I cared and still do and always will.

What you don’t know yet is that your child has complained about me. Complained because I have high standards and expectations? Complained because…….

Who have you hurt today? Who has your child hurt and you don’t yet know? It’s a crying shame, a shame on us all. A shame because as I spent almost a week crying I wonder how many other teachers are like me spending their weekend worrying and crying?

The content of some lessons in any subject could be considered controversial. Do we wrap children up in cotton wool or prepare them for the real world? Children get away with telling teachers to; “Fuck off”, but it seems to be acceptable.

It’s a crying shame that no one at the moment has the balls to stand up to anyone and shout out; “YOU ARE WRONG”.

False accusations are a very serious thing and I know that I for one will be pursuing this issue because it really is a crying shame people are treated as guilty in some institutions simply because it makes life easy or it makes us look good. We, as a society ignore the fact that some folk are sadly nasty, yet they are heard! That’s a crying shame!

It’s About Time!

It’s about time we had more unashamed patriotism in this ancient land of ours. We are still within the time of the jubilee year of our dear Queen Elizabeth II. I displayed the Union Flag in the window of my little cottage. I was proud of it. The Olympics were taking place at the time and I was proud of that. I was proud to be British. Why shouldn’t I be? I took it down when a friend casually and certainly not maliciously made a comment that it could be seen as rather too patriotic to the extent of being ‘racist’. It saddened me. I have put it up again tonight!

It is true every country has a past that is shameful. But is it really that shameful? We need to realise that many events in the past reflected the culture of those times. My country like many others in the world haven’t always got things right. The British Empire is an example of this. But, it was the culture at that time and we have learnt from this and moved forward. Nazi Germany is an exception to the rule and similar atrocities continue in the world. Can all countries declare the same changes as the UK has? There are horrendous groups such as EDL and The National Front and they need wiping out as do other horrid fundamentalists!

It’s about time we stopped denying our faith if we have faith, for fear of offending other non indigenous faiths. Arguably this is contentious. Paganism could be considered to be our indigenous faith. As a Catholic obviously I’ll lean towards Catholicism. We have for centuries been a multicultural society and we should indeed remain so and be proud of our gift for tolerance. But, not at the cost of Eastern religions taking any priorities and advantages over our own as some folk feel that they do. Similarly, these folk should be listened to within an appropriate forum. If we are destined to become a secular country that should be made clear and all religions practised here should be equal. So horror stories of Muslims blocking the streets and aisles in trains in prayer really shouldn’t be accepted as Christian fundamentalists should not be accepted either.

It’s about time the working person didn’t have to pay for the wrongs of others. The man, the woman, who goes to work and works jolly hard to pay a mortgage, rent, bills. But yet some of these folk can’t afford a holiday. However, they save and save and carefully plan when they can have children. On the other hand there are others, and we know there are, who claim benefits and continue to churn out children. Whilst we are at work they are basically shagging each other senseless because hey another baby another dollar! This happens! We all know it but we are afraid to say!

It’s about time ‘rights’ were actually defined correctly. This relates somewhat to the above. Yes you have a ‘right’ to a family when you are in a position to finance your family! Why should I? Really? Tell me? I am in no way against folk claiming benefits. I have had to myself. I am against the benefit culture! Jobs are hard to come by. Don’t keep churning out children then! Simples! Mistakes do happen and women and men are left in poor situations but don’t regard that as your destiny.

It’s about time parents took responsibility for their children. Many do and I know fantastic parents. Stop seeking ‘syndromes’. Really? The tax payer pays extra benefit to a parent of what is sometimes simply a naughty child! There are far too many ‘syndromes’. Stop blaming teachers too. Teachers do not pick on your child. Your child is naughty, discipline it! If you can’t or if there is a genuine problem, seek help, don’t defend your child’s poor behaviour. We are all responsible to varying degrees and help is available. But not when you actively blame those who do care and can help!

It’s about time we bothered about the environment. So your fancy big house looks good with flag stones! Get off your lazy arse and dig it and plant things and do your bit for wildlife! Get your animals neutered. Yes is it your responsiblity to reduce the amount of kittens born. It is your responsiblity to NOT go to a puppy farm! Stop hunting you weirdo, really, keep traditions, but hell, Henry VIII did that and what a twat he was! We’ve moved forward ok? Same with factory farming, it’s barbaric. Have less and support free range farmers! Some traditions like Christmas are nice, some are cruel. We do have the intelligence to distinguish between what is what! Recycle! It’s so easy! Holiday more in this fantastic country and boycott cruelty. Do you really want to finance a country that skins dogs alive? Make a stance! We moan about queuing in shops and everything else, lets really moan and take action about things that actually matter!

It’s about time we sorted out crime and stopped pussy footing about. How many paedophiles now? How many overcrowded prisons? I do wonder still having studied crime statistics in other countries, how many folk would actually think twice about sexually abusing our children if they knew with our technology that they would be hung for it! I wonder if they’d soon get over their little pedo rape syndrome? What if we all had to go to our local prison and actually take the cash out of our wallets and hand it over to the dirty little thief or the warped rapist? Could you do that? You do that but indirectly.

It’s about time we stopped having to be so bloody politically correct. It’s time we had humour again. Clearly not at the expense of those less abled or less fortunate. But really, get a grip folks! We need to release ourselves from this ‘blame’ culture. This paranoid culture. The world isn’t out to get us. We are the world for Heaven’s sake! It’s time we stopped being afraid to say to those who have moved here and criticise us; ” Go back to your own land then”. Sharia law and any other laws that are not the laws of our land do not have a place here. It’s a fact. It’s not racist. It’s not discriminatory. When I can build a Catholic shrine in Iran and not be persecuted….. well there you go! Stop ‘honour’ killings in our country! It is not right and we should not be subjected to this and our Police Force should not have to deal with such things and then be criticised because it’s happened. Why is it wrong to think or say; “If you want Sharia law or Islamic ways, go live in an Islamic State”? I am NOT racist but am at times made to feel so.

It’s about time any extremism in this country is wiped out totally. Relating to the above, there shouldn’t be feelings of preferential treatment given to some groups. It should be made clear and in a concise way that ALL religions may thrive but none may attack the other in any way.

It’s about time our soldiers were totally supported and financed when they leave the forces for whatever reasons, unless they are dishonourable. The current case of our Marines is ridiculous. ‘Pacifists’ need to shut up. Don’t you think we all desire peace? Ask the families of the ‘Fallen’. Get a grip. Whilst nasty regimes exist around the world we need a strong fighting force! This force should be a priority and funded accordingly!

It’s about time we all stood up and behaved as we were born to behave. As humans. As decent but also tribal folk, proud of what and who we are! Accept your destiny and your own determination. No one owes you anything! But you dear reader owe you your all and you have a duty to your family, your community, your society, your country and your world!

Dear Parents on Parent’s Evening!

It’s called all sorts now isn’t it! Parents’ evening! Consultation evening! etc. etc. Slag off the teacher evening!  Barge in the classroom and be downright rude to the teacher evening!  Let’s be a mouthy mother and try to be threatening to the teacher evening and bring in the big bulky husband to back me up with the intimidating the teacher evening!

Well done and thank you to the majority of supportive parents.  Your children will achieve due to your support and the mutual respect we have. We work as a team to help your child succeed!

To you abusive, nasty parents who barge into my classroom with the same pathetic attitude that your child displays when disrupting my lessons, God help you!  I hope you are never subjected to this nonsense at your place of work!

I pray to God you can get on with your job without the hassle I am subjected to!  I hope you never breed again and I hope your ill disciplined offspring don’t reproduce in the near future!  In fact I pray, and really I do on this one, that they never produce little carbon copies of themselves or you!

I do not pick on your little precious equal. Your little precious equal is basically naughty! You are rude! Get over yourself and stop blaming the world for your inadequacies!  Get a job or at least try to! Stop thinking the world owes you! Please, most of all, stop inflicting this horrendous attitude on your child!

Don’t play the single parent card, don’t play the syndrome card! There are many single parents etc. in and out of work who bring up children with little resources!. Lack of money is no excuse for poor behaviour!

I’ve met fantastic folk on the streets, perfect manners!  I’ve been a single parent for twenty one years, my girl is polite and respectful!  So don’t tell me about hardship! There is never an excuse for poor manners!  Money does not buy manners or morals!

Stop wasting tax payers money! Stop being lazy and sort your child out! I am a teacher! I am not a surrogate parent to your child!  I was not not put on this earth to take shit from an ill disciplined child because you can’t be bothered to deal with it! Stop shunning your responsibilities! You gave birth to it, bring it up.

Don’t ever again storm into my room and be aggressive and threatening! Be aware that the attitude you display will do a full circle!