Age six is hard, for grown up me and younger me.

I feel embarassment for me when my kids ‘have a moment.’ I feel worried for them that they will lose friends or fail to make new friends during these moments in time. Excepting one truly horrific trip to IKEA years ago, my kids never had a toddler temper tantrum. I was secretly smug.

Yes, I think I talk things through with people (aka children) more than others might – is it because I was a counsellor/therapist? Is it because I worked with children for so long? Is it because I liked attachment parenting, peaceful parenting? Is it because I’m a home educator? Yes, yes, yeah, probably!

I find myself infinitely less patient lately. Perhaps this makes the kids feel less safe, maybe I’ve made them feel shame. I guess I have to admit those things. We’ve all been less than perfect parents, and I actually think that’s okay. We can’t all be understanding and patient and perfect all the time.

But no one ever told me of the guilt and worry that accompany being a parent. You’ve got these small people who are still young enough that you are the centre of their universe. And it’s intense and scary, as well as being lovely and amazing.

About a year ago, one of my kids went a little bit crazy. Like stomping off in a black rage needing their ‘privacy’ every single time we met up with other people. That child has come through the other side, and it looks like their sibling is now entering the arena of crazy. This child is whining and screaming and crying. A lot.

I find this so much more difficult to deal with. Maybe because I can see it is having, or could have, a very real effect on that child’s existing friendships. Also I find it difficult that my kind, easygoing, not-a-bad-bone-in-their-body kid is freaking out about shit that I find it difficult to empathise with.

But while chatting with a friend this evening (Oh, where would we be without kindred spirits?), I was hit with a bolt of truth. I wrote something like this to her –

{this child} just reminds me so much of a younger me. I was very, very smart but socially I was very behind. I struggled with friendships. This is painful on a number of levels.

It’s hard as now most people probably see me as suprememly confident, as funny, as smart, as really clued in with emotional things and human relationships. Those things are all true; they were not ALWAYS true. I had a very lonely childhood, but I think – looking back – I was really bloody happy when I was alone. I didn’t really have friends, and I felt awkward about not having them, but when I was home?

Oh, I was running alone through the woods, imagining worlds I miss now. I was writing endless stories in those thin, cheap spiral bound notebooks. I was playing with Fisher Price Little People until I was probably too old for it.

This child is like me. This child is intensely bright, and that probably adds to their difficulties. Other people may not see the creative mind – no one knew the things I knew when I was little. I’m lucky to see into the bits of their mind they choose to share; this child is lucky to not be at school.

My friend said, So what? Maybe right now they prefer sitting with the grown ups. That’s fine.

And she’s right.

I weep for the little me who had no grown ups to sit with, and who always felt slightly out of sync with my peers. I grew and bloomed and now think I’m fantastic with people. I can see that will happen for this child; their humour and kindness and creativity will make it impossible for any other outcome.

But right now, at age six, it’s hard. It’s awfully hard.


What I do late at night. (AKA invent new subcultures and wax lyrical)

Tonight I uttered the phrase ‘middle class gangsta’ in a conversation and then was overcome with a feverish frenzy. Over the next three minutes I wrote around twenty poems on the subject. I sent them to my friend, who promptly wrote a chorus and responded with gratifying rejoinders at each new poem I messaged her.

I feel so alive, so ridiculously empassioned, so besotted with the wonder of the English language that I’m actually debating opening a Middle Class Gangsta blog and posting one poem a day. This shit is golden. (And some is just shit…but it’s midnight, I’m babysitting, and I’m very, very, very tired.)


I’ll kill you with my hummus,
And my olives picked in Greece.
Everything’s organic, bitch
Your life is under lease.


Do you want a fresh croissant?
I’ll hit you in the head.
Drink up that nice mint tea
Cause you’ll soon wake up dead


Now let’s make some nice craft animals
No, you shut up and listen.
We will use this felted wool
You’ll see what you’ve been missin’


Darling, share with Alfie
And give some to Fiona too
We all gonna pop some bullets
Then pop to the loo.


Georgie knows all his colours
And all his numbers as well
Georgie likes to kick yo ass
He thinks its really swell


I got glue guns, I got etsy,
I got crochet hooks and I got library books,
I got dirty looks, I got vicious slander
And I got maps to nice little brooks.

Walk down life’s path with me
Yes, towards the Steiner school
you’re dead, I got you fooled.


Imma get you, ain’t nowhere to hide
I’ll look on amazon and order weapons real fast
While I wait for two day shipping
I’ll draw mandalas and sit on my ass.


Sure, yeah I’ll fight you
Just givè me a minute
I need to pause this show
It’s a documentary, innit


How do you say
‘I’ll fuck you up’
In mandarin and Latin?
Have you felt my new sheets they’re 100% satin.


What you mean you don’t like
Baby led weanin’?
You’re so ignorant about healthiness
I think you need a beatin’


I only wear barefoot shoes
Like all true gangstas do
The formation of my foot bones
Is admired by my crew.


Oh you babywear your twins
Guess what, I totes do, too.
Baby’s in the back
And strapped on front’s my AK-42.


Oh, mighty universe, thank you for the ease of communication that Facebook creates at midnight as I stretch my inner gangsta while sipping Organic tea, adult colouring book at my side. My hand knitted wrist warmers are superb at keeping me warm whilst allowing to me tippy tap on expensive electronic gadgets. The three minutes I spent performing an invisible rap YouTube video with my friend were worth at least a month’s supply of vegan raw food.

Seriously. Three minutes. Set your alarm and go. It will free you.

Not Back to School week 2015.

This is our third official Not Back to School week – though in my mind, every September has been a NBTS time as the kids never were in nursery, preschool, etc. That’s a contentious view to hold, I realise, as many people seem to think if your child isn’t school aged you can’t possibly be a home educator. I disagree. (But let’s leave that discussion for a later time!)

So my children would have been entering Year 2 – in the UK, the years thus far are Reception (USA= kindergarten), year one, year two, etc. Children start school a year or two earlier than they do in the US. My Facebook feed is full of the children of my American friends – children older than M and S – entering Kindergarten. Whereas mine would be entering second grade at just turned six. It’s nuts.

Unfortunately, the phone on my camera has died a nasty death….those of you on my Facebook feed may still be treated to really blurry and light heavy pictures, you lucky ducks. Maybe I will share some here, too. But what have we of the no school fame and glory been up to?


We had an appointment early morning which we all went to and enjoyed, more or less. Kids then had swimming lessons, and we played with their friends in the pool after lessons were finished. Both won the Swimmer of the Month in June, so I was unbelievably pleased to see that this translated into two free lessons! Swimming is our most expensive thing we do. We then did Tang Soo Do in the evening, and that’s always lovely. We’ve been going there for approaching a year and a half, I think, so it feels like a real little community.

In the evening S took out her play car – a saga my facebook friends were forced to experience blow by blow – and Suzy and M jogged round the block a few times while S chased them in the car. Lots of chatting with neighbours, etc.


Pottery class! This week it also incorporated some drawing lessons on shading, followed by a noisy play in the back garden. Our HE pottery class is followed by a second one, and as a group we are capable of some serious noise on what is otherwise a peaceful street.

Afterwards we went to the annual Not Back to School picnic. This year’s seemed especially nice as I met a bunch of new people who were absolutely lovely. I also got to chat with some people I adore but very rarely get to see. S spent most of the day off with her two closest friends, while M was determined to throw himself into some new friendships and games. He had some great successes, and some great failures. My heart felt like it was on a rollercoaster most of the day. We were there for hours and it felt bad to have to drag ourselves away!

Afterwards we went to gym for S’s solo gym class. This time last year, she was still attending the toddler classes and was terrified at the thought of going to the ‘big kid’ classes. Over the span of the last eight or nine months, though, she not only joined the big kid classes, but has now been moved up to the advanced recreational classes. England is obsessed with levels, qualifiations, certificates – so I can say with pinpoint accuracy that S has earned five badges on the British Gymnastics Proficiency Awards scheme. It starts at level 8 and works up to level 1. She’s currently working on her level 3 badge – and had her first advanced class last week.

She looked like a toddler compared to the others. Her little training group compromised of a girl who looked about thirteen, and three kids who looked to be about 9-11. At just turned six and very petite, she was absolutely tiny compared to the others! But how she’s grown – rather than her confidence being knocked by being in a class with kids who looked like fricking circus performers, she absolutely loved it and lit up.


Since the kids were toddlers, the one activity I’ve always wanted to do with them was Forest School. We never managed to attend one, and then last week I found out that one geared towards HE kids runs, basically, on our front step. I’m keen for us all to meet new people and forge new friendships; we love the people we know, but it’s also nice to spread our wings a bit. So off we trundled to the woods.  (Though M was rather worried about going to a place with the word ‘school’ in the name, as he said it would be boring! When I explained it meant playing in the woods with new people, he was so so so so so so so excited.)

It was amazing. I can’t think of a better way to spend a chilly, sunshiney afternoon than sat around a fire eating s’mores and laughing with friendly, relaxed people. The kids were amazed at trying flint and steel to spark flame, ran off to explore, found tyre swings, made new friends, screamed like banshees brandishing sticks and running, helped make a fire, drilled holes into logs. We all left happier than we’d been going in, and how many things can you honestly say that about?

We then went to the gym class the kids take with their friend M2 (yes, my codenames probably need some work). M2 and S are now on the waiting list to move to the advanced class, and M is completely pleased and excited to have a gym class on his own. A gym dad I’m friendly with said that M is becoming his own man, and he may be right. After warmups, all forty kids line up on the side while the head coach divides them into smaller groups for the other coaches. Recently when S and M2 were selected, and the coach asked M if he wanted to be in their group. M mouthed, ‘NO!’ very emphatially and and made the international symbol for ‘No WAY, you must be crazy’ (or ‘help me, i’m on a boat and it appears to be sinking!’) at the same time. He’s definitely moving towards more independence from twinship and is so outgoing and friendly. During last term’s class when the coaches get to talk to parents. three individual coaches all made a point of coming up to tell me how much they liked M – they said he makes them laugh every time he sees them. He is a funny little charmer.

After class, I took the three kids outside to be greeted by my friend R who had an actual baby squirrel in a box. I know. She rushed off to drive the squirrel to a sanctuary – I know – and we went to the park to play. Queue Suzy sending me a text asking me to feed the kids before piano lessons, queue me panicking because I’d completely forgotten they had piano lessons.

M has recently started piano, S started before the summer. Their teacher remarks to Suzy constantly about how different they are. S sits quietly, pays attention, and progresses neatly and without fuss. M wants to chat and chat, is up and dancing with the teacher while they clap to learn the rhythms, etc. Makes me laugh.


After a quick trip to the post office to collect the Lego set M has bought with his pocket money, we were off to a local huge skatepark and playpark to meet with a few other home ed families. It was so frreaking hot it was unreal. The kids brought along a sword, a scooter, and two buggies loaded to the hilt with babies and related accessories. Their friends all brought a similar amount of stuff. We set up camp on the edge of the skatepark while they all ran off to do whatever it is small children do when left to roam freely in semi-dangerous places, and we met another random home edder we’ve never seen before.

We then moved to the playground/park while the adults watched from a distance and tried not to move too much. *wink* It was actually really relaxed and fun – right till I realised we were going to get a parking ticket if we didn’t leave at that exact second. Came home, M built his Lego set, we put the catepillars a friend has given us outside for some sun, the kids did a lot of small world play, and then watched a show together. This was our first home time all week! Phew.

Then both migrated to the garden. S was out there all afternoon into the early evening. AND THEN SHE HAD AN ACCIDENT.


Thanks to the laundry prop falling onto her face, we had an amergency dentist appointment. Her teeth were knocked badly, and one fell out during breakfast. A section of her top teeth looked all wonky and crazy, and indeed – the dentist has said one has been knocked into such a bad position that it is likely to affect her permanent teeth. She took about seventeen gazillion pics of S’s teeth on her phone. We go back in twelve days (to give the teeth some natural recovery time, if possible) for an x ray and possible tooth removal. The idea distressed S so much that the dentist has suggested we may want a referral to have it done under general anethestic in hospital. FUN FUN.

Afterwards we came home for some rest and recouperation. This is the first year we will be booking up free places during that schools/home ed film festival in November, and we decided to watch Night At The Museum to see if this was a film franchise we’d want to book in for. It was a nice, slow, non-scary way to end an incredibly busy week!

We had Tang Soo Do in the evening, then went with one of their TSD friends to a park round the corner from the Dojang. Dynamics can sometimes be squirrelly with twins and one friend they both like, but after a tearful start it all ended well.

And thus ends the first five days of their third Not Back to School Week! The weekend was even busier, so we’re looking forward to a less intense week.

Achievement unlocked.


I earned my Level 2 Adult Weeing in Public badge today.

I got Level 1 last week, when I thought I was in a deserted bit of woodland. Imagine my delight when I heard voices approaching right in the middle of …ahem….earning my badge. Like I could stop myself at that point. No.

Today’s was in a popular park, hidden at the edge between a hedge and a fallen tree. Right alongside one of my children. Hey, it might have looked like I was squatting down to help them. Maybe.

Genuinely can’t decide if this makes me classless and some sort of public nuisance, or merely a more evolved being who can take care of business without shame.

The ‘before’ picture.


Two minutes after this was taken, you both were stripped of apparel and running in the sea. Rain poured down so hard and fast the line of the horizon was hard to see.

I stood there, slightly miserable in my soaked through trousers and dripping hair.

But how you laughed, how you screamed in delight. Running up the beach in the cold, kicking water and oblivious to the ‘bad’ weather.

It never occurred to me to say no. I’m glad of that.

Cool stuff, check.

I’ve been mindful of wanting to both do more cool stuff, as well as appreciating the things I experience that are cool.

The night glow at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta:


Everything about the fiesta is fun, but this was our first night glow. It was also our first time attending with a camp friend – and her daughter accidentally knocking my daughter’s tooth out!

Tape exhibition, Cardiff:



This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It’s an interactive art exhibit – a treehouse/tunnel/otherworldly place suspended between trees….and made of nothing but sticky tape. The time inside this thing felt like a little bit of magic.

Arnos Vale Cemetery:


Despite living so close to this place, we’d never been before last week. It’s a Victorian cemetery and woodland. I’ve been to old cemeteries thst have been reclaimed by nature, but this took it to the next level.

Graves are interspersed into old woodlands, with dark paths twisting around. I swear we saw a Leopard Cat, but I accept it may have actually been a Bengal.

Barleymow’s Maize Maze, Chard:



I LOVE MAZES. And this one went on long enough to freak out both my father in law and son. All us women were laughing rather cruelly and helplessly at their worry we’d never escape.

The kids then climbed and conquered a mountain made of hay bales, before whizzing down the attached steep slide.

I’ve done cool shit.


I have done some cool shit.

I’ve spent time teaching in a well known school for the Deaf, totally immersed in American Sign Language and Deaf culture. One of my most proud moments still is when two 17 year olds thought I was Deaf – a real relief as spending eight hours a day communicating in a language I was not born to was intimidating. But amazing.

I’ve worked at an American summer camp for years and years, culminating in an excellent time being the Director there. Summer camp is sort of like you see in the movies, only deeper and funnier and harder. It helped me discover who I was, to celebrate that, to be loved for nothing more simple than just being me.

I spent one memorable winter season living alone at that camp, 400 acres of potential axe murderers and demons at my beck and call. Many hours spent hearing voices outside the window, running like hell through the woods to my little cabin, keys shaking in my hands as I pictured the hounds of hell just about to disembowel me.

I’ve been part of the editorial staff of an international magazine. I never knew how mundane something so seemingly glamourous could be. I loved it. I loved the giant proofs of each new edition, I loved the weird pressure of my work being checked by people just as geeky as me, I loved the odd man who gave me lifts out of London.

I moved across the world to another country, practically sight unseen, for love. I learned how to navigate the most effed up city ever, fell in love with that city, lived in a tiny studio flat with a toy lobster hanging from the bathroom light pull. After a year of staying up all night on the phone to Suzy, waiting for the mail to come each day, what a miracle it felt like to live with her.

I had two years of therapy; it was a requirement for my course, and what a gift it was. I spent hours sitting on a couch across from a woman who showed me such love, such understanding, such humour. How profound it was to be seen, to be known. If I offered a quarter of that experience to the many humans I worked with as a counsellor, I consider that a job well done.

I’ve been inside some notorious psychiatric hospitals, many while volunteering as a mental health advocate. One particular night of trying to get off a locked ward, then out of a locked outer containment zone, then out of endless maze like corridors that all ended in locked doors stays with me still.

I’ve been pregnant with two children, and spent an entire summer on the couch, looking out the window at white fluttering butterflies. Every year when I see those butterflies I am reminded of movement deep within, of my huge, curved belly, of the heat of that endless time of waiting and wondering.

I’ve done cool shit.

I’ve shaved my head, dyed my hair every colour of the rainbow, pierced my tongue. Met many ‘strangers off the Internet’ in a time when that just wasn’t done. I won national awards for acting when I was a teenager and was still so stupid and so brilliant. I achieved a distinction on my Master’s dissertation, and have gone back to teach other MA students.

I’ve written a book or two. Or three. These moments were among the most joyful and fulfilling of my life.

I’ve had sloppy teenage kisses and made messy teenage mistakes. I experienced true love at a very young age, and those memories still sometimes creep into the nighttime landscape of my dreams. I’ve kissed boys, and girls, and my own arm before I was confident in my abilities when lips met lips. All those things led me to here – married just about fifteen years. Safety, laughter, ease, contentment, love.

I quit teaching right before starting a plum job that was hotly fought for. I dropped out of my PhD programme to pursue a career in counselling. I qualified as a high ropes course instructor despite spending three hours crying in a tree, trying to work up the courage to step off a twenty foot high platform. I’ve been in more Halloween haunted houses, haunted woods, and haunted hayrides than you can imagine – and wet myself in fear on more than one occasion. I’ve also wet myself lavishly while laughing.

I’ve survived hard stuff. I spent two years in a wheelchair, unable to walk. My grandmother’s death led me to what, looking back, I can only class as a breakdown. I had a very unstable parent, with many problems, and my choice to cut all contact troubles me still.

I spent time in the room where Anne Frank hid. I’ve stopped my car to let a bear cross the road. I lived without electricity or walls five months every year. I’ve seen meteor showers, I’ve survived tornadoes, I’ve danced in the rain at the tail end of Florida’s hurricane season. I’ve swum naked in a lake filled with dubious creatures. I’ve found friends who feel more like family. I got a qualification as a sexual health worker with young people, and had some of the most…interesting…conversations of my life as a result.

All these things I’ve done, and more, crept into my thoughts while I was driving home today. And I wondered: where is my cool shit now? Ten years from now, will I be able to add onto this list?

I’ve done cool shit. I want to do more.