#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 school run chat

‘Mum?’

‘Uh-huh?’

‘Do adults still say nasty things about me?’

‘…’

‘I don’t know. Not to me, but I don’t see them anymore.’

‘Remember when XXX’s Mum said she wasn’t allowed to play with me anymore?’

‘Yes. I do. She was always very supportive. To our faces.’

**

school run chat

‘Mum?’

‘Why don’t you like XXX anymore?’

‘Well, she said some horrible things about trans kids.’

‘What did she say?’

‘I don’t want to tell you. It’ll upset you.’

‘No it won’t. Tell me.’

‘OK. She implied that if you shared a room at a residential you would rape your room-mate.’

‘…’

‘I’m sorry. It’s not true. Obviously.’

‘I’m asexual!’

‘You’re also 11 years old!’

‘I can’t say the word I want to say. So I’m just going to mouth it.’

‘Sorry, love. I do try to keep you away from all this sort of stuff.’

#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 Happy2021?

Happy New Year?

It was a couple of weeks before the end of last year when I listened to a podcast which said the whole ‘seeing the back of 2020’ thing was a false premise.

I mean, of course, we all knew that. But did we really know that?

For us here in the UK, January 2021 so far is remarkably similar to March 2020. Schools are closed again, and as much as I love my precious babies, I am not a natural home-schooler.

So it’s self-care again, back to the basics. I realised if I’m not waking a kid up to catch an early bus, I can have my precious 6am-7am hour back. I’m writing this in a silent house full of sleeping people (and cat). Sometimes I need rest. Sometimes I need work. Both are fulfilling, and necessary.

#atinylife WhatIamkeeping

Back to normal.

Back to normal by the Spring, they’re saying.

And most of me is delighted,

don’t get me wrong,

I’m in no rush to succumb to a deadly virus,

or bury a loved one,

and I miss the few friends I have left,

and I want to eat cake at Naked Bakery

and wander around Edinburgh again

and visit my sisters

(so I can argue with them face to face instead of online)

and talk to poets

and listen to their poems.

But I’m also thinking

‘what do I want to keep

of this not-normal?’

This slowing-down, even further,

staying in touch only with those that matter,

making things accessible to those who are always home,

no fundraisers

no duty events

sloughing off those expectations

it’s time we visited, we haven’t been for ages –

being home, Saturday, Sunday.

#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?’