#atinylife gamer²

The best thing about having a teenager is having to defend your own parenting decisions to an ungrateful compassionless apple-of-your-own-eye. Did I say the best thing?

The other day, my oldest asked why I let them do so much gaming. Apparently one of their friends had asked how my kid had negotiated this Elysium. For most of the week, unless they are eating or doing their jobs, they are ‘allowed’ on screen.

I’m negotiating for more ‘time away’ but I’ll have to exchange it for weekend virtual sleepovers.

You might be judging me here, and I don’t mind. I judge myself, too.

All my oldest’s friends are online. They’ve had a pretty hard time of it, even before lockdown. So I might feel bad, but I’m going to let them game. They are doing stuff they find difficult every day.

#atinylife gamer

I’m not a gamer. Not really.

However, I make an exception for an obscure little puzzle game called Chain Cube. You bash cubes with the same numbers on them into each other, and then they make another cube with the sum total of the numbers. My current score is 12564886.

I’m playing it less now. In those cranky days of home-learning, when the children needed me there, not to teach, not to do it for them (probably because I said I wouldn’t), but just to be in the room while they worked. Sometimes I had to sit in-between their two rooms.

It was the perfect activity. I could always be interrupted – and was, always – but I wasn’t sitting staring at the wall, waiting to be told that this spelling or that maths was too difficult.

Thanks Chain Cube. Sanity saver.

#atinylife medal

Having trans kids requires a very particular kind of parenting. One of the things that happens – and there are A LOT of things that happen, not all of them are this good – is that (some) people tell me I’m wonderful.

I know! How very dare they?

Thing is, I don’t want, nor do I deserve, a medal. What, for accepting that my kids are who they say they are? I’d like to think, if you’re reading this, you would do the same for yours.

Yeah, maybe I go out to bat for them most days. Sometimes sticking up for them means I get hurt. Lose people I love, distance myself from others. But: I still get to walk around this world as a cis woman. My life is, and always will be, easier than theirs.

That’s part of cis privilege.  

#atinylife good day

The sun came out and

we were allowed to have people over in the garden and

they could be from another local authority area and

I made gluten free vegan brownies and

the kids played with nerf guns and

I hate toy guns and

I didn’t care and

I made tea and

Mr HB made coffee and

we bitched about stuff and

we did the crossword together and

we laughed and

we looked at the tadpoles and

the tadpoles are getting bigger and

they are moving around more too and

kids all played really well together and

later on we went down to the river and

it is really beautiful here and

today it is cloudy again and

I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and

I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.

#atinylife LastBorn

Given my poetry pamphlet is now sold out (thank you to everyone who bought a copy), I thought I would record the poems for my much-neglected YouTube channel. Here is a transcript of the first one,

Last Born

Quickened pain, surprising me

out of all birth plans

and breathing techniques

and the crickets of the TENS

machine crawling up my back.

I had woken early

completed the lists:

paired socks, as my pelvis

pentangled like pulled knitting.

And all too soon

the burn, the squeeze, the heft

was beyond unbearable

but then

you released –

a tide of meaning

from me

into the world.

My last born.

Completing this compost

of family

this outrage

of us.

Never forget how you came:

child of mine.

Never be afraid to labour, and

never push down pain to places you cannot feel it.

#atinylife backtoschool

It won’t be long now – I know, I’ve done nothing but whine about them being home. Now I’m sort of wondering if I’ll look back on home-learning with a tear in my eye. Like this lunchtime, I thought, ‘this is one of the last lunches you’ll have together in term time, isn’t that sad?’ My kids, however, are nothing if not reliable. Within five minutes they were screaming at each other about something screen-related, I assume. Which I won’t miss AT ALL. It’s been awful and exhausting – I never thought my children would cry daily after babyhood was over. At that same time, I’ve loved slowing down with them, focussing on them above everything else, getting right into what they are into (Star Dew Valley rules btw). I’ll wave them off joyfully but I wouldn’t give this time back, either.

#atinylife 2020 where?

There was a day, a few weeks ago, when I went outside and thought ‘It’s really cold out here!’

‘Although, I suppose it is November.’

How exactly is it November already?

When we went into our first UK lockdown, in March, I knew it was March. But I still kind of feel like it’s March?  How can 2020 be almost over?

I’m trying to remind myself what this year has been like, for so many of us. Many of us home-schooled one or more children between March and June: I had two kids at home, and although the school were great, there was a certain amount of ‘yes, you do have to do some work.’

Then in July, we moved house. That’s taken up just as much time and headspace as I thought it would.

Here’s to a productive 2021!

#atinylife wisewords

Lockdown, kids, school, bullying…

all fading away now as I listen to your

wise words, your tone steeped in kindness, experience and love,

as you tell me I am doing everything I can

to keep everything balanced –

all these plate-spun needs

crashing down in a pile of sad children

and distant partner, (and cat that still needs to go to the vet)

and am I thinking about my own needs, my own self?

Your friendship saturates this digital space

between us – the space hollowed out between

me and you, and you, and you – without these electrical signals,

these sound waves,

how alone would all of us be feeling, now?

I put out the distress call

and like a bat emoji in the sky

you see how much I need you.

And you call

and you say ‘Hi! How are you?’

#atinylife thanksfornothing

Someone suggests an update to some legislation. It’s kind of controversial, from some angles, so they do a consultation. Over 70% of people respond and say ‘yep, sounds good.’

They decide not to update the legislation.

And if it was just this, I would be fine. I mean, it’s paperwork. It’s disappointing, it’s not surprising.

But it’s not only this. It’s the 18 month wait for your kid to be seen by someone who knows less about gender than you do. It’s the four emails a week to school because people are deliberately misgendering your child and then claiming they are entitled to their opinion that there are only two genders. It’s the memories of the times you couldn’t walk down the streets of your own village. It’s watching your child become more and more withdrawn. It’s news like this.

#atinylife newleaf

September again!

It’s weird, I only spent just over a year in full-time academia, and yet September is still my ‘new beginnings’ month.

January is just lentils and baked beans and NO FUN until pay day, am I right?

This year is even more special because since the beginning of the summer we’ve moved house, and both kids are at new schools.

And I’d love to tell you I’m turning over a new leaf – that all the rest of the ‘stuff’ is in the past – that I’m going to stay well and, um, whinenew start less.

But everyone knows you can’t run away from yourself.

What I now like to refer to as ‘my trauma’ has come with me, and is enjoying the new house just as much as I am. We are working together, and hoping to feel better soon.