Longer school days? Are you shitting me?!

It’s all very well the government proposing changes to the school days and terms etc but have they actually even considered the people that this actually has an effect on? Namely the children, teachers and parents?

We already impress a very direct and institutional type of learning here in the U.K. One that only really caters for a certain type of child that can bear sitting down for long periods of time and who can embrace the type of schooling system we have here. For those of us who desperately struggle to get our children to cope with the six hours they do currently, this is simply a no go.

My child spends enough time in isolation during the school week as it is because he can’t cope with the type of learning and learning environment that currently exists. And because he doesn’t tick enough boxes is unable to receive the help that might allow him to thrive. I’d love to be able to have him schooled in a free school here (think Steiner or Montessori) but I don’t have thousands of pounds to pay for it. Or in a country where there is less emphasis on academic achievement but the child’s own talents are recognised and nurtured. We may as well just place him in a windowless room and tell him that he won’t make anything of his life because he doesn’t ‘fit’.

From an early age the majority of U.K. children are forced to attend an education that pushes from the word go. They are told what to wear and what not to wear. They are told to play nicely, to sit still, to conform. As they get older, the more they want to express themselves the more they are stilted. “Not that hairband Amy, faaaar too distracting”, “Henna?!” (On the hand), “What if everybody wants to start painting their faces with henna? Just imagine the chaos!” (Yes, these words were actually uttered from the headteacher in my daughter’s high school).

No hair dye or piercings other than ear lobes and god forbid if you even dare to wear socks in a colour other than black! Girls must have their hair up, it’s a health and safety issue and no, you may not play outside when it is snowing in case someone gets hurt.

I, for one, am sick of this type of pedantic, suppressive system and now they are waffling about extending school days and shortening holidays with no regard to what the children actually want or would benefit from? And why? Because there is a fear that not enough children will progress with the grades that are needed to fulfil a competent workforce in a few year’s time? I bet Lord Fucking Farqhar’s son or daughter won’t have these issues? Again, these measures will most probably punish the poorest families who are already struggling with childcare costs and children who are already at the mercy of a society and system that doesn’t work for them as it is.

Give the children a summer of love. Give them some joy and help those affected by job losses by giving discounted (fuck it! Maybe even free!) opportunities to visit places they can’t afford – theme parks/animal sanctuaries/swimming pools/train travel to the coast. Let the people know that they haven’t been forgotten. That those in their ivory towers do actually give a shit.

Then ask the teachers how they think they need to structure their days. How they need support in helping the children who need it most.

Humph. What was going to be a very short Facebook rant turned into a long WordPress rant… can you tell I’m in a shitty mood today?

Who are you calling ‘mad cat lady’?

Nothing like a nagging, compulsion to write at 1am.

I am trying to process my ineptitude surrounding matters of the heart. Relationships. I liken myself to a newborn lamb, barely able to stand, very wobbly and prone to bleating at the first sign of trouble. Hopefully less gloopy.

I can’t quite get to grips with having a healthy relationship. I am not surprised considering the mixture of a somewhat dysfunctional upbringing and the mixed messages that are drip fed into the sub-conscious of every woman in today’s society.

Media, advertising, even the bloody government push this constant idea that it is better to be part of a duo. Where would we be without a significant other? You even get fucking tax allowances if you are married and they hilariously charge you to get divorced. In fact you have to ‘apply’ to part from your betrothed. As someone who is currently going through this hideous process it brings up all matter of questions, mainly, how did it go so wrong?

On one hand women still have the old fashioned expectation of being the soft ones, the carers, the cleaners, the feeders… (I sorely lack at that last one.. cooking has never been a strong point) and yet within a lot of us is a desire to be self sufficient. Independent. Feisty. Strong. Some can manage this. They can incorporate everything within their personality and relationship and still be a likeable person. I can’t. I am more of a “fuck off I can do this by myself, can you help me?” type of gal.

I think the crux of the matter is that for me, and I presume countless others, we are brought up to believe by society that we need to find ‘the one’. Our soulmate. You are generally expected to procreate and then stay in a happy bubble until one of you drops off this mortal coil. However, I am perplexed as to why this idealistic (and is it even idealistic?) notion even exists. There is a recently a stronger voice for us women (and men) now which propels us towards the belief that all we really need is to love ourselves and only then can we find ‘true’ love with another. The concept that we are to be happy alone before we can really be happy with another. This isn’t a new concept by any means but it is one which is now presenting itself quite regularly via social media memes and is peddled in self help books and among support groups.

And it is here that I am presented with a huge, stumbling block. I am trying to do this. It makes sense. Don’t rely on another to make you happy. Go within. Love thyself.. all that jazz. The issue that this then seems to present to me is I don’t know how to combine that with getting close to another. I am very much all or nothing. For those that I have been with, this can present as a terrifying mix of nonchalance and Fatal Attraction. The ones that succumb to my charms probably have equally as many issues with their own self esteem and relationships, otherwise they would run a mile. Those that start walking backwards the moment they spot this are wise enough to know that I am anything but simple to be with. Minus the lover, I revert to being almost human again and I merrily skip along (think 3 month old lamb stage) without stumbling too often and you might even spot a little skip into the air. Bring in a new lover and cue the bleating.

I have actually got better in that I now at least recognise this. And I know where it stems from and the how’s and why’s.. but it doesn’t seem to make the actual transition from Normal(ish) Chloe to Lunatic Chloe any easier to bear. I don’t appear to know what normal behaviour is in a relationship. And is that purely an issue that I have or is it one that has been exacerbated and promoted by society? We are shown via film, TV, books etc that true love is all giddiness and butterflies. However when I look back, butterflies have always been teamed with anxiety. Anxiety that the one I have started to like, won’t call or like me back enough. The ‘can’t stop thinking about you’ feeling that we get in those early days, is that always healthy? We very willingly, cup our heart with both hands and hand it over to the other person and say, ‘there, you can have that’… and then wonder why, when they drop it or accidentally sit/shit on it that we fall apart and our confidence in love is crushed. So how do we find this elusive happy medium? Is it possible to have giddiness and a healthy relationship?

I am stumped. I can see myself being single forever because I can’t imagine having the self sufficiency I feel when I am alone and being able to feel that confident independence within a relationship. And so, with that, I am just going to the rescue centre to get another ten cats……(who are you calling mad cat lady?….🙄)

p.s. apologies for a probably crap piece of writing.. a compulsion to write and being too tired to think straight = the above 😉

Say Goodbye to the Chair.

If you are squeamish, don’t read on… and if you are a misogynist, don’t read on. I am going public with this erm… event… because I feel that as there is rather a large proportion of us out there that could be stuck in a similar situation, I would like to reach out and say. I know. I get it.

This morning, I drove merrily to work. It was very misty and as I crossed the Down’s I drove reasonably conservatively hoping I wouldn’t smash into a marauding sheep despite the arsehole behind me with their very shiny Mercedes badge practically inserted up my rear-end. I was in a good mood. Things were/are ok. They bump up and down a little like cargo on a ship.. sliding up one end before sliding back down to the other as they broach the waves.. but generally, all is good. I wondered at the sheep/sea smell that was in the Brightonian air as I crossed from one department to the other. And my happy go lucky state of mind continued until the moment I realised, as I sat on the lovely, almost new blue chairs in the training room, that something may happen to be amiss. I discreetly checked my crutch with my fingers and sure enough, there was wet. I peered as discreetly as I could, heart racing, and saw that I had bled through my tampon/knickers/jeans and onto the fabric chair. I quickly re-arranged my (bloody) arse so that I could work out what to do and how to do it, while the trainer continued to discuss ‘tasks’.

This was not a win-win situation. There was no passing Go and collecting £200. This was a Straight to Hell moment in my life. I looked at the male trainer and then around at the other four non-haemorrhaging women in the room. I waited until 5 minutes later when he called for break and I spoke up and said (a lot more bravely than I felt), “I am afraid I have a bit of a problem. I am er.. perimenopausal and er.. I thought it was over but it wasn’t and I have erm… bled. On the chair. There..’. I literally felt that I had to explain what stage I was in my reproductive life so that they would all realise that I wasn’t just some incompetent twat of a woman who couldn’t manage her periods. I burst into tears. The shame. The humiliation. I wished I had pissed on the chair by accident instead. At least you can wash urine out easily.

He was lovely and so were the women. They offered tissues and tampons whilst the trainer ran around finding spare sets of scrubs and debating with his manager about how I would finish the training. I sniffed pathetically and rubbed the blood away as much as I could with wipes meant for Covid. I said goodbye to the chair, knowing that it’s short life had ended too soon. There was no way that chair would be making another appearance.. blood doesn’t come out at the best of times and I don’t think that even if it did, it would ever live up to the rest of the other chairs. It’s a bit like a mafia goon who fucks up accidentally.. they don’t want to do it but the bosses will have to kill him.

After an agonising 20 minutes of losing all the millions of the pads and tampons that I actually did have on me (so that this wouldn’t happen) and then finding them again.. I left, head bowed and drove home.

My mood changed. I emailed my new boss and explained what happened. I arranged to miss the rest of the training tomorrow and shadow a colleague instead. I sat on my bed, freshly showered and felt shame. I felt anger at the shame. Anger at my body. Anger that I couldn’t just carry on with my day. Anger that I hadn’t realised I was bleeding. Anger that I am peri-menopausal. Anger that I haven’t yet had the hysterectomy that I have been waiting over a year for. Anger that the chair wasn’t plastic. Anger that I felt anger.

I spoke to my mum on the phone and my voice wobbled. The thing I am most angry about is that the fact that still, today, periods are a taboo. They are considered in the main, as dirty. I am ashamed that despite the fact I know they shouldn’t be viewed as that, I as a woman, still perpetuate that sentiment. If I saw someone else I would feel pity. Pity that they would feel that humiliation. Yet for myself, I just feel huge embarrassment. A failing.

I know with my rational head that the above isn’t true. However, my point in writing this is to drive the point home to both women and men out there, that this is the reality. We bleed. Sometimes we aren’t able to ‘manage’ our bleeding. It comes and starts when it wants to. It ebbs and it flows with abandon. For me it comes with iron deficiency, fatigue, sleeplessness and feeling cold. It comes 20 days out of 30. It comes with weariness and tears too.

What pains me is the effect it had on me today. The feeling of being less than (and costing the NHS a chair..)..