Mummy on the Edge November/ December 2013 (Families NW London Magazine)
So, here I sit, blanket around shoulders, shivering on the sofa, disgusted with myself for beginning a paragraph with “So”. I'd like to think that if she were awake, Mini-Me would tell me the correct name for that circular literary device I just produced. Lately, she comes home from school and imparts all sorts of wisdom; I never knew there was so much I didn't know. But she's asleep. These days she is comatose as soon as her head hits the pillow. We are permanently jet-lagged from waking up at 6.30am every morning to catch the early (which, in my opinion is TOO early) bus to get to secondary school. In the vain attempt to motivate her to get the later bus and therefore give her (and more importantly, me) an extra half hour in bed, we stayed up (I know...) to watch “Trust me I'm a doctor” with Michael Mosley who presented research that showed that an hour longer in bed can improve our health and function. Apparently, if you don't get enough sleep, your memories are not filed correctly and get lost forever, or something. Which is kind of a problem. Er, what was I saying?
It takes some getting used to, this high school business. Homework is time-consuming, bags are exceedingly heavy and days start early and finish late what with music activities topping and tailing most days. Not to mention lunch times filled with Badminton, Gymnastics and Football on days when she already has PE. This is what I term U.V.E. (Unnecessary Voluntary Exertion) and serves to remind me of the fact that half her genes are from someone else, (which I often forget due to OCAF syndrome - look it up on my blog.) In fact, that process is currently being explored in uncomfortable depth in Year 7 Biology.
Independent travel necessitated the procurement of a mobile telephone for Mini-Me's use. Well, for my use, to reach her. Use of the phrase “in my day” is almost as bad as starting a paragraph with “So,” but at risk of breaking all my own rules, here goes: In my day, we would walk to and from school, communicate with friends and remain in touch with music and popular culture without the use of one of these hand-held oracles. But these days it's different. I spoke to my nephew and nieces to get their opinion on what sort of phone to go for and they were firmly of the persuasion that something with whatsapp and the internet was necessary. Admittedly, I was confused. I didn't want to get her anything flashy that would attract attention on the street, (innit!) but I had heard that kids can be cruel and I didn't want to get something that would attract derision from her peers, either. I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading articles online and looking at phone tariffs until I understood less than when I started. I decided to yield to my own pressure and found a phone that I was sure had enough bells and whistles to look respectable to her mates but was too basic to be attractive to any thief. I was inwardly congratulating myself on being a “Cool Mum”. And then I spoke to a friend who's son was starting a different high school at the same time.
“I got him the cheapest, most basic phone I could find,” she said. Wasn't she worried about him being teased by other boys, I wondered. “No, I don't care. Let him get through his first year of secondary school. It will be hard enough without other distractions”. I realised she was right. So I got a similar phone, with a £10 pay as you go credit and now when Mini-Me texts me from the bus to say she's on her way home, it is wonderful because I have no worry about anyone seeing anything flash or about her dropping or losing it. Or my losing it when she drops or loses it. Hurrah! Of course that's not the end of it. I did tell her that I MIGHT upgrade at Christmas or on her birthday, when it becomes apparent that she is able to handle everything and keep up to date with homework and music practice and anything else I can think of chucking into the equation when the time comes. But I didn't say which Christmas or birthday. I'm going to stretch this one out...
Read more from Angelina Melwani at mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com. Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com.