Thursday 27 August 2015

Shame game

I was prepping for a thing I am doing this week and was considering the influence of shame and came across some thought provoking quotes*.

                 Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour.

                 ‘Shame is a soul eating emotion.’  C.G. Jung

                 ‘The difference between guilt and shame is very clear—in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are.’ - LEWIS B. SMEDES, Shame and Grace

Shame in our house is an easy target to hit for some of our children, in fact the real trick is not hitting it for them.

‘Don’t do that, don’t do this, why have you put that there, why did you say that, where have you been, what are you doing?’ Regardless of the intonation or innocence of the questioner these words, like arrows, score direct hits on feelings of shame. Understandably this precipitates a reaction, pushing back and fighting. It’s a well worn path that we often try to avoid but seem to find ourselves travelling.

Appropriate parenting uses tiny drops of shame to moderate behaviour with immediate restoration. Though I confess that Peanut seems impervious to this approach after cutting a chunk of hair off her head this weekend she was given an appropriate stern talking too. She was then given the love, restored to the fold and all was well, though her hair was hacked it was redeemable. Peanut then slinked off and and removed 50% of her fringe to the hairline giving herself a semi mullet. Mrs C, an ex hairdresser, was mortified/devastated, I suggested that Peanut is to only be allowed out of the house in a balaclava for the next six months while it grows out.

Not helpful.

Peanut though without remorse or shame noted in her defence ‘it’s dad’s fault, he says I look like Dora the Explorer, so now I don’t’. In my defence I wasn’t in the house. The more astute will be wondering how a three year old got her hands on a pair of razor sharp professional hairdressing scissor not once but twice. As the qualified Health and Safety Officer/Social Worker of the home I’d like to claim ignorance.

I digress.

In light of the stuff I’d read and pondered on shame I started to think about the ‘why’ questions that I hear myself ask Flossy.

Each 'why' seems like an accusation directed to the core of her being and punch straight into that shame.
‘You are bad’ is what is being heard. Frequently we are mopping up the aftermath of overwhelming shame. Teachers, friends, wider family members passers by in the street set it off and we mop it up.
I’d never given it much thought as to why ‘why’ questions don’t work. Maybe this is part of the answer.
Oh, and we compromised and found a headband for Peanut.

*I didn’t get where I am today by not knowing how to Google stuff

Thursday 20 August 2015

White noise

I was a cookie cutter kid and I just drifted through school the top end of average at all but English where I was strangely significantly below average. Or as I reflect now plain lazy and a slow writer. I had the wherewithal to manage the usual issues at comprehensive and was socially able enough to not be bullied or ostracised. The world of education has changed since the early 80’s. My parents were more than pleased that I didn’t follow in my brother’s footsteps. He had a flamboyant and quite remarkable distain for the requirements of the schooling system and infamously skipped one of his final exams to go and see the Rolling Stones. By comparison I was probably just white noise to most of my teachers, neither ‘nowt nor summat’.

This is not going to be the case for Flossy. She is many things but she is not white noise in a school environment especially a comprehensive school she definitely a Rolling Stones kind of pupil.
In relation to Flossy’s education my attitude stinks. She can get her GCSE’s anytime between now and the end of her life. But she only gets one pass at adolescence. She’s going into year 6 in September and that gives us a year to find a ‘safe’ comprehensive. Mrs C and I decided in May that Mrs C that we were going to give no consideration to the looming issue of school til we’d moved house. As we know you should never open a European land war on two fronts.

So, we’ve moved house and now is the time to start to think about the future schooling shenanigans. We want a safe place, Flossy needs a safe place. On a most fundamental level what can she learn in a scary place? Her feeder comprehensive, or Stalag Luft VII as I affectionately renamed it, is exclusively for ‘cookie cutter kids’* or so Ofsted concludes. Our preferred choice, a Catholic school Sarah and Gracie went to, is unfortunately in a ‘no go’ area for a range of reasons geographic/family reasons. So, we are plotting and scheming, consulting a range of professionals and casting our net further afield to locate more nurturing and sympathetic environment. We get ones pass at this and the increasingly punitive education system, or so it seems, needs to be negotiated with the least trauma possible for Flossy. We’ll travel if we have to and we’ll go where we have to and do what ever we have to do.

What do I aspire to for six years from now? To be the father of a child that feels included and welcome in society rather than excluded and alienated. Doesn’t seem like much but I’m taking nothing for granted.

*Clearly there’s no such thing.

Tuesday 18 August 2015


I don’t hold with the view that the internet is the work of the devil and the worst thing that was ever invented. I love it. Mrs C loves it and the kids love it.
But we’re now 25 days into our enforced internet fast.

This is why:

Me: Hello, I received an email yesterday saying all was well for the 1st August to transfer my broadband and telephone. I just wanted to check that you’ve got the right details.

Call Centre Hope Destroying Automaton (CCHDA): Oh, sorry sir we cancelled it two days ago.

Me:      …………….Wha!……but!…….why?

CCHDA: Oh, we tried to ring your home phone to confirm the new address as there’s a problem with it but we got no answer.

Me: But I called you and said I was moving on the 24th; I don’t live in that house any more and that’s where the phone is that you rang!

CCHDA: (slightly condescending) but sir, we did try to ring three times.

Me: (thinks ‘did they just say that?, have I lost my mind?) But I don’t live there any more how could I answer it?

CCHDA: Yes sir, we did ring you three times.

Me: Ok Ok (resigned, then realising) But you sent me an email 12 hours ago saying you we’re going to do it

Yes: We cancelled the installation two days ago.

Me: (A broken man) So, when can you do it?

CCHDA: Oh, we’ll have to rebook it. Probably about the 14th August.

Me: (sighs) Ok, ok, can I confirm my address it is ………………………..

CCHDA: Sorry sir we don’t have that address on the computer system.

Me: (Indignant) Just forget it, I’ll find someone else, consider this my notification of leaving you.

CCHDA: Ok sir (pleasant voice), is there anything else I can help you with?

So, that's that, there's mutiny in the ranks, we've been given a new date from a very helpful new supplier but we've lost all hope that we'll be connected back to the world. The staff at McDonalds have started to recognise me as I come for free wi fi. 

We are on the edge.

If you message me I will divulge the guilty provider, though I can confirm it rythms with 'BaulkBaulk'