Category Archives: kids

Kids say the Harshest Things

So I’m living back in my family home since finishing Uni last Summer.

At 24 and a half, I’m definitely feeling the pressure – though from nobody but myself (and possibly a teeny bit from my little sister who wants my bedroom) – to progress my life in at least some fashion since achieving the ‘walked off the edge of a cliff’ experience of graduating over 6 months ago now; but for the moment I really do love living here.

Of course there are the obvious perks like once again being able to give Mam a ring on the way home from work on a cold, grey winter night and get her to stick the bath on. Not to mention the distinct and very well appreciated lack of rent payments to be made (though of course I do pay my way) and the fact that there is no utterly incompetent and/or criminally negligent landlord in the equation to get my blood boiling to unhealthy temperatures.

But the best thing about living at home is definitely that I get to see my nieces and nephews loads, and properly watch them grow up. Of course I have to admit that this is me in a good mood talking – this house is a rather chaotic, manic and at times shouty one and that’s not always fun. But it’s always been that way and for the vast majotity of the time I love it!

So today I got up – like most Saturdays – when I decided that I couldn’t roll over, sandwich my head between two pillows and ignore the racket from downstairs any longer. It sounded like my completely amazing if sometimes a tad (quite a lot) shouty Mam was having a whale of a time with the 8, 3 and 2 year olds and it was after 10am (which meant I’d had a 4-hour lie in compared to most week days) so I wasn’t too much like a bear with a sore head as I went downstairs.

The two older cherubs (little brother and his big sister) were sitting in the armchair in the corner having a rare moment of peacefully playing a game together (this is a pretty big deal) on big sister’s iPad. After a few minutes of chatting to Mam while they played and I made us both a cuppa, I was mercilessly ganged up on in what has to have been the funniest verbal attack that’s ever occurred without a quick-witted comedian and an ill-fated heckler being involved. I’m not even sure how or why it started but here in ascending order for your comedic enjoyment, are the best of the insults that were hurled at me over the 5 minutes that followed:

  1. “Stupid face, you smell like poo” – some pretty standard 3 year old material
  2. “Aunty Lauren you’ve got a bum-head on your face” – erm… unique
  3. “Yeah, you’ve got a bum on your face… you’ve got cheeks…so bum cheeks” – ahh, outwitted by 8 year old logic!
  4. “That’s cos you’re old… in fact I think you already know that…” – insightful…
  5. “You’re so spotty… you’re like Mr Tumble’s spotty bag…” – that’s right, this one’s my personal favourite, I’m a spotty bag. Spotty. Bag.

Needless to say I would have been left reeling from this creative tyrade – if I wasn’t completely used to it. And if it wasn’t so hilarious. And if it wasnt followed very closely by this from 3 year old Ethan – “Aunty Lauren, I just love you!”

So yeah, that was the first 15 minutes of my Saturday. You’re jealous right? I would be!

P.s. this one wasn’t aimed at me but there’s no way I could leave it out. A few minutes later Nicole the 8 year old piped up with this absolute gem! She informs me that she heard it in a Taylor Swift song but coming out of the mouth of an 8 year old to describe her younger brother and cousin, I think it’s found its perfect place in the world – “Aren’t Ethan and Kenzie a nightmare wrapped up in a daydream?”

I’m still laughing now!

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My Anaconda don’t want none unless you Read Books Hun!

First of all, thank you to Sophie Jordan for letting me use the genius lyric of her creation above, as a title for this one. Soph has come up with some right gems in the time I’ve known her and that one has to be one of the best! It inspired me..

So its no secret that I’m not a Nikki Minaj fan. For me, she’s one of those ‘artists’ that there are far too many of now, who have no concept of their responsibility to the public that makes them so incredibly rich. Minaj, Cyrus and co. are quick to defend their soft-porn music videos and even worse lyrics by saying that they’re free to express themselves however they want, but think about it this way – these days no business would dare neglect to have a ‘corporate social responsibility’ department, and their PR and customer service teams are forever answering to anyone and everyone in the press and over social media. And quite right, the people at the heads of these companies are becoming very, very rich on the money that consumers are paying them for their products and services. So they should be answerable to the public.

So why then, does this not apply to pop musicians? Personally, I can’t see why they don’t have a responsibility to make their products appropriate to the people that they are peddling them to? If you want to be able to be overtly sexual and swear heavily in your live shows, then make your tickets subject to an age limit that reflects that content. Of course this won’t happen because the ability to sell out arenas and stadiums for 50+ shows would definitely suffer.

Of course, there is also a lot to be said for the fact that it is up to children’s parents what they allow them to go and see. And if those parents want to, they can check in advance what the content will be like, from previous shows.

But what I really can’t get my head around, is that those performances are being allowed on TV, on family shows such as awards ceremonies, and that the songs are all over the radio. It is becoming almost impossible for parents not to let their kids see and hear it, and swearing aside, the messages behind a lot of these songs are questionable, to say the least.

For example – when did it become OK for very young kids to be singing along to songs on the radio, with lyrics like this – “I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches. What? Yeah!”

Maybe the swear words are beeped out, but it still gets the point across. And the point is that the only power that young girls have comes from the way that they look. Yes its good for young girls to know that they don’t need to be skinny, but its not good to teach them to insult girls who are. And its definitely not good to tell them that the reason they don’t need to be skinny is because its alright, men do actually find curves attractive! How about telling them that they don’t have to be skinny (or curvy) because, wait for it… the percentage of men who want to have sex with a woman, is not the only way to measure that woman’s value!

To look at another majorly annoying example, Beyonce is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter, businesswoman and Mother. So why in the video for DrunkĀ in Love, released not that long after she gave birth to their daughter, does she spend half of the video draping herself mostly naked over her husband like a groupie, while he raps away, making no eye contact or any recognition that he knows she’s there? That doesn’t say ‘strong woman’ to me. And I realise that if anyone wears the trousers in that relationship, its probably her (and that in terms of their private life, it actually has absolutely nothing to do with me). But when it comes to their public image (which they are making their millions from) they do need to think about the images they’re projecting about healthy/unhealthy relationships.

Anyway I’m done ranting, so to turn this entry into something a bit more productive, here’s my list of a few women in the public eye at the moment who I think are really worthy female role models (and not just because men want to see them naked)…

1. Maryam Mirzakhani

Image from telegraphindia.com
Image from telegraphindia.com

Maryam Mirzakhani this year became the first ever woman to receive the Fields Medal, a major mathematics award nicknamed the Nobel Prize of mathematics, after it has run for 50 years!

2. Emma Watson

Image from theguardian.com
Image from theguardian.com

Emma is a successful actress of course, and is well known for being absolutely smokin! I think she deserves a mention for using her celebrity status to become a UN goodwill ambassador and for her involvement in the HeForShe campaign, encouraging men and women alike to consider gender equality issues.

3. Shonda Rhimes

Image from tvguide.com
Image from tvguide.com

This one isn’t just because she’s the writer behind the cinematic genius that was the Britney Spears/Zoe Saldana/Taryn Manning/Dan Aykroyd/Kim Cattrall/Justin Long 2002 movie Crossroads (maybe that’s a bit of a niche one, but it basically made my early teenage years). No, she’s also responsible for Grey’s Anatomy – which she first created after watching lots of daytime TV when she first adopted a newborn baby in 2002 – and is basically taking the world by storm as a writer and producer.

4. Gemma Mortensen

Image from linked in.com
Image from linked in.com

Still only in her mid-thirties, Gemma is Executive Director of Crisis Action, an international non-profit who bring together organizations across the world to help ensure that governments uphold their obligations to civilians during conflicts. She has won numerous awards in recent years for herself and for Crisis Action, and is seen as a real leader of change in what started out to be her own small way, but is now hugely effective across the globe.

“Don’t Tell me what to do!!”

For a long time now I have found myself getting very frustrated by some people’s massive overuse of the term ‘political correctness’.

Now this is not because I feel that a situation in which my kids could grow up not being allowed to keep long-lived British traditions such as having Christmas parties and plays at school, is fair and just. It isn’t because I don’t recognise that there are still many taboos in our society which need to be broken down, and that getting around entrenched stiff-upper-lip-syndrome is an essential part of making cultural progress with issues around, for example drug use, mental illness, abortion, homelessness, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy… the list goes on and on. It isn’t because I am a wily politician who is terrified of voters thinking about and discussing real issues which may lead them to question my carefully cratfed election strategy, and consider voting for a ‘revolutionary’, ‘new,’ party such as Ukip. (The fact that a vote for Ukip is in my view the exact opposite of a vote for change or a protest against the establishment, is a topic for another day).

The point is, I don’t like being told how it is ‘correct’ for me to think, feel or behave, any more than the next person.

But what I also hate is to see people rolling out the old cliche that something is “just political correctness gone mad”, along with a big sneer, as a barrier to conversation and debate. What I hate is when that cliche is thrown into the mix as an excuse to refuse to discuss the way in which we do things, our attitudes, or really anything that means anything.

Today I was reading a post on Facebook where a guy was asking parents to consider signing their childrens’ more extravagant Christmas presents from Mum and Dad, and signing a more modest collection of them as being from Santa Clause. The idea behind this was that the children of parents who are less wealthy (or less willing to amass huge amounts of debt) can be left wondering why Santa thinks they’ve been naughtier than Jack down the street who got 2 new consoles, 26 games, an iPad and a whole new wardrobe for Christmas.

The idea is that splitting the credit between Santa and the parents shows children that their Christmas presents are determined by the wealth of the family rather than by who Santa likes the most or by how well each child has behaved (which, lets face it, tends to have very little effect these days, on how much stuff they get).

Now of course, there are many arguments before and against this. I can totally see the point that many parents work very hard to provide chair-fulls of gifts for their kids at Christmas, and don’t see why they should have to spoil the magic by admitting they’re not all from Santa. I can also see the argument that the only important thing is to teach your children to appreciate whatever it is that they get, and not compare it to what other’s have received. I know that’s how my brothers and sisters and I were brought up and we continue to be very none-materialistic people and appreciate anything that is given to us or done for us.

Another comment that had me nodding as I read, was from a parent who wholeheartedly agreed with the post and elaborated that she thought it was extremely important that children grow up from day one knowing the value of money and that nice things don’t just appear out of nowhere because they are owed to you, because its Christmas.

I could see the points of people who pointed out that we all have a responsibility to society and its other families, and the happiness and welfare of their children as well as just our own.

The post and its comments made a really interesting read and there were so many varied opinions that I can’t honestly pretend I know how I will approach this when the time comes that I have my own family. But I really enjoyed reading the discussion and thinking about the points that were made.

I also saw a blog about much the same subject but discussing the impact of posting photos of mountains of gifts on social media, if you have time give it a read and check out the comments, people obviousy feel very strongly about this issue.

The only comment that angered me to read was on the first post and it basically ranted about how this is just another example of ridiculous political correctness, and “them” trying to tell us what to do.

No. No it isn’t. It is simply a heartfelt post written (from my perception) with the intention of encouraging parents to think about something a little differently. It was intended to start a discussion and it did just that.

So why is it that some people are so terrified of that? Why are they so quick to become intensely defensive of themselves and the way they live their lives? Why are some people so closed to debate?

As I said above, I don’t like being told by our government how to think, feel and behave, just like everyone else. But I also hate being told just that, by people on the internet. I hate reading memes and posts on Facebook which agressively proclaim to rally against ‘political correctness’ and encourage individual opinion, yet include words along the lines of “re-post this if you have the guts”.

Is this not also trying to tell me how I should think, and shaming me for having an opinion which does not comply?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there is nothing wrong with questioning the way that we do things as individuals and as a society, and that crying “political correctness” every time someone tries to do that, probably says more about you, than the person you’re yelling it at.