Mummy on the Edge, Families NW Mag, October 2014
We all know that women can do ANYTHING. This is a fact that I have attempted to impart to Midi-Me since before she left the womb. As single mother to an OCAF (Google “OCAF Angelina” and it will come up – after the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation ) child for the past 9 years, I've always tried to demonstrate our innate capability. “I am woman” after all, goes the song that Helen Reddy released in the year that I was born.
Run a successful baby signing business and single handedly bring up a child? No problem! Get rid of huge spider in bathroom? Pass a teacup and the latest issue of Families NW Magazine. Get rid of dead fox in front of door? Phone a female friend who's a bit harder than me. No, that's not cheating. I show Midi Me that I can do it. So she can do it. This has worked for most things.
A few weeks ago we went out on her roller blades (bought for a £1 on Ebay!) She did well for her first time, but I thought she was exaggerating how difficult it was. Until I put the blades on myself. The last time I tried to roller blade was at Midi-Me's friend's house and it ended with everyone around me crying with laughter as they looked down on me. This time was marginally better and Midi-Me walked alongside, gamely unflinching when I reached out for her ponytail to stabilise me and offering words of encouragement in response to my own choice words... (you can imagine.)
In the past couple of years, Midi-Me had discovered on her school trips to residential activity type places that she had a phobia of heights. “No you haven't,” I insisted. “If you are afraid of heights THAT MUCH why did you ask for a window seat on the aeroplane?” Zip-wiring from one end to another was terrific fun she said, (I'm paraphrasing obviously) but she was still scared of heights.
So it was time to take Midi-Me's pseudo-phobia and stub it out under the ball of my womanly foot, like a filthy carcinogenic cigarette that you want never to smell ever again. Thus, we found ourselves with friends at Go Ape Treetop Adventures at Moors Valley, near the New Forest. Despite my positive experience in Canada, I experienced not a little trepidation among the comparatively stunted trees of Moors Valley, New Forest, mainly due to the fact that we would be responsible for our own attaching and detaching to the zip-wire and safety ding-dongs. (Clearly, the fact that I was referring to them as ding-dongs contributed in some way to my own trepidation). As responsible mother, I concentrated carefully and occasionally poked Midi-Me in the ribs to ensure she was paying attention when the leader demonstrated how to get ourselves from one platform to another, safely. Finally it was time to move. Onward and upward. Think positive. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I threw platitudes and self-help titles around liberally and we didn't fall. Well, she didn't fall.
It's the climbing up to reach the platform on the tree where you zip-wire from which is really difficult if you are as unfit and lacking in upper body strength as I am. I managed to get my foot caught, spinning upside down on the rope ladder half way up to reach the tallest platform. A bit like those performers on the red silk at Cirque du Soleil. Except unintentional.
Anyway, we got from A to B to Z and Midi-Me says that thanks to laughing at me, her fear is conquered. We are women. Hear us roar! Or go “Ooh ooh!” (Like apes).
More notes from the edge of the forest at mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com.
Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. www.singandsign.com.