In passing, definitely in passing, I heard something on morning television the other day which well, really annoyed me. Normally the vacuous content of Lorraine washes over me as I down my second cup of tea, first one is had in bed. On this morning however my arm hairs were prickled and a small gasp was released as her diminutive fashion “expert” made a statement. As if it were a law that all understood and should abide to he said. “Of course you shouldn’t wear a mini skirt if you are over forty”. I’m forty and I still wear miniskirts.
Now before you jump to conclusions I am not a heel tottering lady who with fake tanned legs struts about wine bars in a short skirt at the weekend, although if that is someone else’s choice then that is fine. No, I am in fact completely the opposite. For me the mini skirt is one of the few perks that winter brings, worn with thick woolly tights it’s a pleasant alternative to my skinny jeans. Yes I wear those too. I feel that even at forty my legs, although not long are in good shape and therefore a short skirt worn with thick tights is not only acceptable but looks pretty good.
All this got me thinking again, because these thoughts have occupied my mind before, why is it that a number, an age, should dictate what it is acceptable for you to wear? Why does a small man on the telly have the right to make these grand statements? Why am I so cross about this?
I think the rattling of my cage has occurred as said “fashion advisor” has hit a sensitive spot. A vulnerable spot which is all about the “I don’t want to look silly”. Yes I want to keep feeling young and stylish but I don’t want people sniggering behind my back, laughing at my attempts to be “on trend”. I really don’t want to dress like a teenager but I don’t want to dress like I’m middle aged and frumpy either. So I am also annoyed that most likely, in his opinion, a woman over forty should dress like Lorraine. Bless her, I have no problems with the lovely Lorraine’s matchy matchy, hyper groomed style, but it is not me.
I have long been a believer in dressing for myself in a style which suites me and my personality. However I would say that it is only in later years that I have had the conviction to truly apply this belief. Fashion has long been an animal I love to pursue but I have hardly ever been its slave, I may have slipped up on the odd occasion, but I have always rebuffed the need to look like all those around me. I often made clothes for myself as a teenager wanting to have something unique and all mine to wear. I also had an early love for second hand clothes, now fashionably known as “vintage”, and would trawl charity shops, markets and the Mecca which was Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace. I have never been a highly groomed intensely manicured type, opting instead for a more bohemian/unique/alternative/thrown together but chic or just plain “me” look. It might sound funny but clothes mean a lot to me. For me, making the effort to select an outfit and present myself as I would like the world to see me can truly lift my spirits and start the day on a positive footing. I always say beware the days I’m at the school gates in jogging bottoms, then I really am mentally not in a good way.
That is me, and I know that is not everyone so I would like to add that each person should dress for them self and if you’re not that into clothes then you’re probably into something else. That’s the way of the world, I get it. I also understand that the TV experts are there to guide us, especially in those moments of doubt over a new trend. Is it right for my shape, age, bank balance? Here however I would say “It is not the law and do not be dictated to”. If something makes you happy and feel good go with it. If you’re not sure trust the word of the people around you, friends and family, hopefully they will be honest enough to tell you when you look ridiculous.
I suppose the fashion man offended me, I felt he was criticising me personally. Now even writing that statement I know I don’t care at all what he thinks. I care what my friends and family think and if I ever became outrageously embarrassing I hope that someone will give me a quite nudge. I doubt however that this will happen because actually one of the great things that comes with age is confidence in your ability to making the right decisions and I am confident that it is still ok for me to wear a miniskirt.
Stig approached his teacher at the end of school yesterday and with serious intention asked “what insect are you teaching tomorrow?” Very confused she asked him to repeat the question “What insects are you teaching tomorrow on your insect day?”
Later as I delivered the boys to the school disco, said teacher pulled me to one side to let me in on the situation which had left her slightly bemused. If only she had been at our kitchen table that morning.
“So tomorrow is an inset day” Stig likes to state the known and obvious, one so we can confirm he’s right and two because he needs to talk all the time. “Do you remember when Tink though it was an “insect day” and wanted to go as a butterfly?”
This did indeed happen, back when Tink was in reception he misheard and got very excited about a day at school in costume, dressing up has always been a favourite activity. He was more than a little disappointed to find out that it was just in fact a day when he didn’t need to go to school (this is back when he didn’t mind the place) and not a day when the teachers got to teach insects.
So to this day these odd days off school, sometimes tagged on to holidays, sometimes not, are called “insect days” in our household. Hope Stig’s teacher is reassured that it was a joke and doesn’t think he’s a little “away with the fairies”.
I’ve linked this post in with Actually Mummy blog where there is a weekly post about the funny things kids say and do. To have a giggle at more amusing anecdotes click the badge below.
It seems strange to talk of progress in a week when each child has been off school poorly for a day, Daddy has been really poorly all week, there’s been brawling guinea pigs, brawling parents and Stig has used the F word to a teacher, oh and the half painted lounge remains half painted. However progress has been made and pleased we are with it.
After last weekend it was noticed that Tink had a cough, quite a rough sounding one but in himself he seemed fine. Eating, running, playing, answering back and digging his heels in, so all business as usual. He went off to school on Monday with no real problems but on returning home the cough was definitely taking root. Mr H and I decided that if he didn’t seem improved we would keep him off school the following day. Tuesday morning arrives and Tink is coughing a little so I tentatively approach the subject of how sore the cough is. I know Tink is highly unlikely to admit to a weakness such as pain. “It’s fine” he states.
“Mummy was wondering if you needed to have a quiet day at home to get better”
His eyes widen and I’m ready for the onslaught of negotiations to start. What will he be allowed to have on the sofa, duvet? blanket? How many cuddly toys? DVD? DS?
“No mummy I want to go to school today, it’s art”
Well knock me down with a feather; I have not heard those words from the mouth of my baby for a very long time “I want to go to School”.
There is no way I’m standing in the way of this progress, so off he goes to enjoy art.
Later at bedtime, without even thinking, a throw away comment almost, the little man exclaims “I hate having a cough and a cold”. He stops me dead in my tracks for the second time that day. Here he is admitting he is not well and that he doesn’t like it. A true revelation and when I share this news with Mr H he deservedly gives it a “Wow”.
Tired I head to bed early and as I’m climbing into bed a little pyjama clad Tink appears at my bedroom door and I beckon for him to clamber into bed next to me. As he snuggles in he tells me he can’t sleep. I make a few educated guesses and he admits his throat is sore. Now I’m starting to wonder if I have the right child. He has left his bed to find me, to tell me he can’t sleep and he’s almost verbalised the reason as being because he doesn’t feel well. Double no, triple WOW.
It probably seems to most an unlikely and undeserving day to celebrate but we truly regard this as a development of great heights for our youngest. Firstly let us consider the incident surrounding the cough and cold. Tink has always worn his brave, tough exterior with pride, hurt, pain, illness, sadness, fear have long been considered a weakness he will not contemplate revealing ( I know I’ve told you this in so many words before, but just in case you’d forgotten). The pain of being continually ignored as he cried out as a baby has set a default message in his brain, that message tells him “do not trust anyone with your feelings, they will not take care of you and they will hurt you more”. And so he has stood alone protecting himself from the world around him since his baby days. This week Mr H and I have performed open brain surgery on Tink. We have carefully manipulated the hard wiring of his brain and with a steady hand redirected these wires to a new location. The new location is on the edge of the section of the brain that deals in trust. The new message that is now being processed in his brain when he is inflicted by an emotion of derisory quality is “Ouch that hurts; maybe I can trust someone to help make it feel better”. Well maybe not just anyone but myself and Daddy and maybe we’ve been very slowly performing this procedure for six years.
Then there is the other statement “I want to go to school”. It has been a long time since Tink has delighted in the idea of going to school, especially on a day when he could, if he’d wanted to, have stayed at home. He even dressed himself one morning this week, again something that has not happened for a long while. The school is working hard to present itself as a desirable environment to Tink. His teacher is very understanding and he listens to suggestions and ideas we have as well as feeding back to us on his daily progress. So as we head into the final week of this school term I feel that real progress is being made in endearing school to Tink.
Having spent some time this week watching videos of the children when they first came to us, Mr H and I have felt quite emotional, again, about the journey we’ve all made. As the beautiful ashen blond 2 year old Tink gazes up into the camera, his azure eyes are wide and unblinking. Startled and dazed, confused even. I didn’t see it back then he was cute, adorable, seemed to be wanting and needing of us. Watching him now I feel a slight chill, I can see the fear deep within, outwardly he’s a happy little toddler with dotting new parents and a funny big brother. In a flicker of his eyes the mistrust is shockingly evident, in a split second it has been buried again.
I watched him today with a more meaningful gaze. He regaled tales to us at breakfast, excited stories which evoked laughter and smiles from him, dancing eyes and dimpled cheeks. Later as we walk to the shops he seeks out my hand and clasped together we converse warmly, easily with each other, enjoying the connection that exists between us. He is at ease with himself and with me. The frightened little man in the videos is not with us at that moment and actually he seems to be with us less and less.
So progress can indeed be celebrated this weekend, especially since I’ve also finished painting the lounge.