My eldest teen dealing with disappointment this week.

Before I start, I want to put this into perspective. No-one has died, or divorced, or left etc. It wasn’t to do with grades or uni or even a relationship. But this week my eldest son had what they see would  as a huge disappointment. He was due to go on holiday with his girlfriend and her family on an early flight on Saturday morning to Tenerife for a week. He had been invited over the Christmas holidays and we agreed that it would be his gift for his 19th birthday which is on Easter Sunday this year. A lot of money was spent on flights, insurance, passport and proper summer clothes that he was going to need.

Last week there was things to sort for him everyday leading up to picking him up from uni late on Thursday evening so we had Friday to sort all the packing and money exchanging. It was a busy week for me as it’s not every day I can be up and around and active due to my illness, however, by Friday morning we were fairly relaxed thinking we were ahead of ourselves.

conors-holiday-pic

Then came the message that was to change it all. His girlfriend messaged to say her younger brother had been rushed into hospital that morning as he had become unwell without any warning signs or symptoms. When he told us my hubby and I knew right there and then that they would not be flying out to their holiday,but wanted to allow him to process what was happening and come to his own conclusions without us being instantly negative. However, as the morning went on I received a call from the mum to tell me what was happening and that they would have to cancel the holiday! Having never spoken to her before other than a phone message I felt so sorry for her when she was getting upset telling us they have to cancel. As an adult we can look at the whole situation and know that the most important thing was that their son was going to be OK. But we then had to break the news to my son, yes he’s 19 years old and should be able to process the initial disappointment and be able to know that it was more important that their son was well. However, throw in the fact he hasn’t been on proper holiday abroad for around 10 years so he was definitely excited about going, also the fact he was going to spend a week with his girlfriend ( who he doesn’t see every week because she lives in Norfolk and he’s at uni in Brighton) and then add on that the fact he has Aspergers (mild traits)!!

Surprisingly, he took it well, but he was playing his guitar at the time ( a stress reliever for him) and we could see that his eyes were welling up but he was trying not to show it. He obviously was concerned for the brother as he has got to know him quite well now and they both get on. He knew it was more important that the son was in hospital and no-one knew what was happening to him (initially we heard it was possible appendicitis, then possible pancreatitis and he was due to have scans and more blood tests) but it was still a huge disappointment for him to process. So, we agreed that if he still wanted to have time with his girlfriend that because my husband was off work for a day or two we would be able to drive him up to stay with her as I know she would want to be at home to see her brother. So, that’s what we did and in all fairness he was quite happy in the end with the outcome of a few days with his girlfriend rather than not see her at all.

I think teenagers ( even the older ones who are more independent) still live in that moment or that day rather than look ahead or plan ahead as most adults would do, in that respect they are still like young children and therefore we have to remember they might not take the same approach to disappointment that a fully grown adult, who has experienced a bit of life, would. Things that happen along the way in life like this situation help us deal better with any future disappointments in life. They put things into perspective, they make them see that things do not always work out as you planned it and it’s still our job as parents to help them through these things and make them feel normal for having these feelings.

The main thing overall is that their son is OK, although he is still in hospital having scans and pain relief until they source the real cause of the problem, but I still think it’s natural to feel a little disappointment when it comes to these situations too. It’s not selfish providing you do not lose sight of the bigger picture. This certainly would have been much, much worse if this had happened on the plane or even when they were out at their holiday destination, there will be other holidays and other times to do things.

So for now we hope he has a great time this week in Norfolk and we just look forward to celebrating his birthday on Easter Sunday.

How have you had to help your teen deal with life’s little disappointments? I am generally interested to know how others cope.

 

 

How to Prepare for Your Driving Test: Top 5 Tips

Having been a qualified driving instructor ( until my illness took over) I know how difficult it can be for anyone to transition from a provisional to a full driving licence, the driving test itself can often be a very daunting prospect. Both the theory test and practical test are actually very straightforward, but the pressure often makes these tests more difficult than they should be. My son has recently passed his theory test and hopefully will do his practical test quite soon ( when he gets a break from uni).

So, If you’re taking a driving test soon, these next five tips will help you prepare better in no time.

Take Advantage of Online Mock Driving Tests

There are many ways you can prepare for a driving theory test. You can read one of the available books on the UK driving test and learn more about the highway code and other knowledge. You can also use the tests at the end of those books to practice. The best way to prepare for the actual test, however, is to take a mock test online. I always advised my pupils to do what they think will be enough ( especially with teenagers!) and then do lots more!

There are a lot of sites that offer mock driving theory tests for you to try. Taking the online tests will help you prepare for the actual test mentally too, which is why it’s the best way to get ready. You can learn from your mistakes more effectively this way.

Timing the Test

Never take a driving test at a time when you feel stressful. For instance, you shouldn’t take a driving test on the same week as a school exam or any other stressful events in life. You have all the time in the world to get the driving license you need, so time your test correctly.

Get Enough Sleep

As mentioned before, it’s the pressure of taking the test that often make you fail. The test itself is very easy to handle. It is very normal to be nervous, but do not allow the nerves to take over, think of all the people already driving on the road they have all had to pass the test! To avoid feeling stressed on the day of the actual test, get enough sleep the night before. You should also avoid drinking too much coffee (or worse, energy drinks) before the test. The high level of caffeine will make you feel more agitated than usual.

Get There Early

Arrive at the test centre early. There is nothing worse and more off putting than rushing through the test centre doors with only minutes to spare.  Give yourself at least 20 minutes to get used to the test environment and catch your breath. You will feel so much better when the test starts and you’ll have no trouble at all passing the test with flying colours.

Getting to the test centre early will also help you prepare for the test mentally. Take deep breaths and visualise completing the test. Be positive about it and you’ll feel so much better – and so much more prepared – for the driving test. The examiners are normal people ( I know it’s hard to believe!), they are not there to fail you I promise.

Take the Necessary Documents

Last but not least, make sure you have the right documents with you. Most of the time, you need your driving license and your theory test pass certificate. Don’t wait until right before you leave for the test centre to prepare these documents. Have them ready the night before. If you do not have the appropriate documents you will not be able to take the test, so please be prepared.

You are allowed to bring someone to the test. If your child is taking their driving test, it is always a good idea to go with them and sit in the back of the car during the practical test. You’ll be providing a lot of moral support and your kids will have an easier time in general.

If you have a specific tip that helped you on the day of your test please share it with us as it could help someone else who is feeling very nervous about their upcoming test.

A Level results and mixed emotions

Today my eldest son did the nervous walk to school to find out his results and ultimately if he was going to get to go to uni or not.

I really feel for the kids today as they seem to be under so much more pressure that we ever were at that age at school. Pressure from the school, pressure from their peers and even sometimes pressure from their parents.

Neither my husband or I went to university, my hubby went straight from school into a job working in a photographic lab, then on to the MOD and from there into the Royal Air Force ( where we met) and then for the last 20 yrs he has been in the Met Police………….not a bad career for someone with virtually no qualifications. I left school and did a Youth Training Scheme ( YTS- remember those….I am very old you know) as a teacher’s assistant before joining the Royal Air Force, I then worked for the London Ambulance service for many years before having my boys and leaving work. When they got older I trained to become a Driving Instructor which I did before my illness took over……….again not too bad for leaving school with only 5 O levels, although I do have 2 A levels which I did at night school while I was still in the Air Force.

Today’s kids though have it so much harder I think. They are pushed from school ( especially from grammar schools) towards the university route from the minute they join, it has almost become the ‘norm’ to go to uni for everyone. I personally love the fact that apprenticeships are making a huge comeback and some kids are choosing to go down that route themselves rather than get into the debt that uni will inevitably land them in. Apprenticeships allows them to use and learn life and work skills whilst earning a wage and is a great opportunity covering a range of careers in all walks of life.

My son got his results today and was overjoyed to get what he needed to go to his first choice uni (Sussex). Some of his friends did not get the qualifications they wanted but still got places, but there were a few who didn’t get anywhere near what they needed and have spent the day in the ‘hell’ that is clearing. It must be overwhelmingly stressful and heartbreaking for them to be in that position, for some it’s almost like the end of the world where they can see no way out.

We were happy for my son because he was happy he got what he wanted. Either way we would have been proud of him regardless of the outcome. For us as parents, if he is happy then we are happy. We made it clear to him well before his exams that he could only do his best and there are always options if things don’t work out the way he wanted.

As super proud as I am, I am totally unprepared mentally for him to be leaving in less than a month! I purposely did not start gathering anything he was going to need as there would be nothing worse than all the excitement of getting everything organised to then not get the results he required. Yes that will mean a rush to get him sorted but I would prefer it that way, however, that means mentally I am totally unprepared for him leaving. I cannot quite believe he will be gone in such a short space of time. It will probably whizz past in a total blur and I will be left after the 12th September weeping into my wine that my baby has gone!

I will miss him terribly but I know he is so excited to go and I am very proud he got the results he needed. MASSIVE MIXED EMOTIONS.

I don’t know how I will cope initially, I know I will get used to it but the start will be very hard for me. He’s my first born, my baby and I just want to keep him close but I know the time is right for him to spread his wings and cope on his own in a fairly safe environment with lots of others in the same position ( I just do not think he even has a clue of what is coming!).

My heart goes out to all of those who were disappointed today and just hope they can see that it is not the end of the world, that these things happen for a reason and that there is always a way forward for them even though it may not seem like it at the moment.

If anyone has any tips for me as a parent, or to help me get him organised with what he needs ( if you have been through this yourself) please let me know in the comments- I will welcome all advice.

Fifty shades of……………….what exactly?

Ok a bit late to this one but I am still seeing all sorts of ‘anti’ 50 shades stuff over social media.

Firstly,  I will admit that I am going to go see this film ( this week hopefully) and I have read ALL of the books ( my views on these you can see here) so you can judge me right there if you like.

Secondly, I DO get the ‘domestic abuse’ issues/ angle totally and can only imagine what a living nightmare it must be to find yourself trapped in that situation.

However, that said I am a 44 year old woman who has been married for almost 21 years, I have two teenage boys and feel that I am sensible enough and have enough ‘life’ experience to be able to separate a so called ‘romantic fantasy’ from an actual real life ‘loving relationship’.

I know there are people who will see these books and film as being what ‘real’ romance or relationships should be like. The ‘excitement’ and ‘obsessive control’ being mistaken for what love is. But surely that’s where we come in as parents ( for our teens at least). As I mentioned I have teen boys aged 14 and almost 17 years old. Surely one of my parental roles is to show them what a ‘normal’ loving relationship should be like. So, whether married, or in a long term relationship, same or different sex it doesn’t matter in my eyes provided the relationship is stable, consensual, equal, respectful and loving. I think that’s what’s important here.  Obviously there are those who like to live unconventional situations in which BDSM is part and parcel of their normality and again that is great providing it is consensual and no one is in danger obviously. Let’s face it the world would be pretty Stepford Wives and boring if we all liked the same things, had the same opinions and lived the same way.

So with my boys I will aim to teach them that they should take a responsibility to practise safe sex when the time comes for them both, covering both unwanted pregnancy or STD’s for either party. Also I think it’s important that we teach them that what they may see in pornography films or magazines is a far cry from what a real loving relationship is like. I will as the only female in the house impress on them to respect the opposite sex and treat others how they would want to be treated themselves. They will experiment as they get older I am sure but hopefully they will learn to see what they are comfortable with and what they need from a relationship.

With all the talk around this film at the moment I will make sure my eldest is aware that your average old married’s do not all have a hidden ‘red room of pain’ locked away in the house somewhere! Let’s face it Hollywood will romanticise anything from war or sex to relationships or jobs to bloody vampires and zombies and everything in between. But I can see also how teenage girls could be taken with the ‘excitement’ of someone who ‘loves’ them so much they are almost stalked and totally controlled. I don’t have girls but I know my close friends with girls would be making sure they didn’t allow them to fall into the trap of perceiving Hollywood romance to be what’s expected in everyday life. I adore the horror genre of films but I do realise that vampires and zombies are NOT real ( although in saying that I would be EPIC in apocalypse- just saying).

I do not want to seem flippant in any way about domestic abuse which I have been very lucky never to have experienced myself or know of any of my friends who have, however, I do not think that’s what the film/books are fully about. Yes they are graphic in what they take part in but surely one of the main threads is that Christian Grey actually starts to change and become reliant on her love over what he had experienced on the lead up to their meeting.

So what I am saying is that of those of us who ‘choose’ to go and see the film or read the books should not be hounded, shamed or ostracised as though we do not take domestic abuse seriously. Our choice is exactly that- our choice. We may not be condoning or advocating either side of the discussion but merely happy to escape work, family or stress for 90 minutes of total Hollywood escapism with the gorgeous Jamie Dornan thrown in for good measure. Let’s face it we all adored him in the brilliant The Fall where he was a fecking murderer for goodness sake.

The great thing about the film is that it has us all talking, whatever the views, surely that can only be a good thing raising awareness of domestic abuse but also opening conversations about teaching and educating teenagers of what is considered acceptable or not in a long term loving relationship.

fifty shades

Results day!

This has been a stressful time waiting on these. Not that my son has seemed stressed in any way shape or form. He has had full confidence in himself which is a good thing. But as a parent we know the pitfalls, we have been in that position ourselves and we generally want our kids to do better than we did.

Our son just wanted to get back into his schools 6th form ( I think it is totally ridiculous that they don’t automatically get a place- but that could be my age showing). That meant he needed an average of B’s across the board on a points system. There is so much pressure on the kids at school today not just from school but in a lot of cases from parents as well.

We have had several chats with my son along the way and said whatever he gets and whatever the outcome there will always be a solution. My actual words were ‘ If you don’t get the points and grades you need for 6th form it really isn’t worth throwing yourself on  a train track over it’. Ok may sound a little harsh but you do hear of the stories of the students who feel they are failures just because they didn’t get A*’s in every subject.

For us the aim was for my son to do the best he could and get the grades he required to get back into his chosen 6th form. Today that is exactly what he did!

In fact he got:

1x A* Maths

3x A’s Chemistry, Physics and Geography

6x B’s History, English Lit, RS, Biology, PE and Music

1x C English language

1x D  French

So he wasn’t impressed with his D, but lets face it it’s not in any of his major subjects, and his B in History as when he got the breakdown all his papers were A’s but his coursework was a B so that brought his mark down and he was disappointed with that.

For us we were and are incredibly proud of him, to get mainly A’s and B’s across most of his subjects is just amazing and better than anything I or my OH ever did. This means he automatically got his place in the 6th form at his school where most of his friends are continuing to go as well.

I am so proud, emotional, jittery and happy I cannot explain it properly. He has done amazingly well and we hope he continues to do so in 6th form with his A levels. However I do know of parents who would look at those results and raise an eyebrow and see him as a failure for not getting all A*’s. To them I say ‘Up Yours’ with the appropriate signal, my son is not stressed and hasn’t been throughout like some of the kids, he is very happy with his results and chuffed that we are incredibly proud of him. For me that will go much further in his personal development and self worth than any number of A*’s.

Anyone else been under the GCSE pressure?

 

 

Super Busy Mum

Financial Haemorrhaging!

That’s certainly what it feels like this month ( and last month). Now I know we are not the only one’s in this predicament and that there are lots of people a lot worse off than we are.

However, it is difficult to stay positive and not panic when you bank balance literally disappears before your eyes. This month alone has been my youngest’s birthday. Something I normally budget for and this year although I frugally sourced everything it still was difficult to cover. That was because we had so many things to pay for!! There is no other way to say it but we just had loads to pay for!!

So on top of the birthday we had……

*£90 for drama term for youngest.

*£40 for an Explorer weekend camp my eldest really wanted to go on.

*£90 to have my poor ‘Gorgeous George‘ cremated after a shock unplanned pet death.

*£15 for a 1/2 day Geography school trip.

*£20 towards expenses for my eldest’s PE trekking trip.

*£70 for a boiler service.

*£150 for my OH’s motorbike service and MOT.

Ok, so we have not yet overdrawn and I know a LOT of people live via their overdrafts. That is just something I couldn’t do. I wouldn’t sleep ( or get even less than I get now!).However, we have no savings to dip into either. At the end of the day we always pay what’s owed, then live on what’s left. I am extremely frugal with food and have recently made the leap to Aldi where I have found we have been saving at least £10 a week easy, if not much more, on our food bills.

But then there is NO extra!! I mean none!! I don’t go out except for the odd coffee and catch up with friends. My OH never goes out- ever!! He works hard, tries to get as much overtime as possible and then comes home. He never moans about it, that’s just what he does. The kids earn their pocket money by doing chores- it’s not just handed to them.

I’m left feeling worse about not working. Regulars will know I have M.E and this week alone I have been unable to do anything- I mean anything! I have been hit with exhaustion that has made it difficult to function, shower and make dinner- let alone anything else.

If I worked I could help financially, I could relieve the pressure and possibly make things easier. But I cant!!! It’s so frustrating. Frustrating beyond words.

And so I now look towards next month and the run up to Christmas. Thank goodness we pay into a ‘Christmas Club’ via family, it means we get get our money back in November in plenty of time to organise Christmas.

Then I hear people saying hey are going out, going for a weekend away, buying new clothes, going for meals etc and just wonder……….HOW DO THEY DO IT?

I REPEAT……………..HOW DO THEY DO IT??????

 

Age certificates for films

Now don’t get me wrong I am ALL in favour of this sort of stuff. I am that completely mean mum who doesn’t approve of underage playing of age 18 video games and inappropriate TV programmes……………even though my eldest is now 15 he still laughs at my ‘total shock’ face!

However, tonight it was a different story. I took my eldest to see The World’s End at Showcase in Bluewater. This was a treat just for him away from his pain in the arse younger brother, something for him and me to do together. He is a really good kid and looks after me well with my illness and I wanted to treat him.

When we got there though the ticket girl asked if he had any ID. At first I was shocked at this although part of me did understand, even though he stands at 5’10 and has the token facial hair and spots that go with his age. Now I know what your all thinking, some kids are older looking than others blah blah blah. But I am not that type of parent. I play by the rules. I realise why the rules are there after being married to a policeman for almost 20yrs!!

However, I REALLY do think my son looks his age now. He has shot up in size and demeanor and it really did not cross my mind to even think about ID. Yes the small print in the T’s and C’s say that people may be asked for ID however after he has had access before there I haven’t ever worried.

Tonight though something in me just clicked and I felt determined to push the point!!!

I asked to speak to the manager who just told me he would not go back on a decision the clerk had made!!! Surely as a manager he should have people skills, be able to listen and if necessary override a lower member of staff. I appreciated what he said about the cinema being fined if they were ‘spot checked’ by the council and so I offered to call home and get his passport number and Oyster card number that are traceable and legal documents that could be easily checked should the council ask. The manager even stated that he probably was 15 but now ID had been asked for he could not let him in without it!!!

SO NOT F**KING IMPRESSED!!

Really would a parent stand there and try and argue his case if he wasn’t the required age group? Would a parent offer to ring home for legal document reference numbers that are checkable? Would I offer my name and address and telephone number plus leave my driving licence to back up the surname and parent/child relationship???

In my mind- NO I WOULDN’T.

So why could a decent manager not see this- he did understand and agreed he looked 15 but because the ticket clerk had asked for ID he would not go back on that decision!! SPINELESS in my mind, a cop out from someone in a management position.

So I returned furious, after taking their names I have already sent an email to the General Manager and requested someone gets back to me.

OVER THE TOP? Yes probably, however, my teen is a good kid, we teach him right from wrong, he looks out for me and does lots for me due to my illness, so as a young carer he should be treated better I think- he does look his age so this did nothing for his self confidence!

Rant over- do you agree or not, don’t mind if you don’t but would love to know.

Money- can you manage it?

I like to pride myself on being good with money. I can make a small amount go quite far when it ids required. I can prioritise what is desperate and what I can leave for just that little bit longer. This includes making the food bill stretch, when necessary and paying all the necessary extras, such as the kids after school clubs and finding alternative ways to entertain the boys without spending a fortune!

I have had to become like this since it was necessary to give up work after being diagnosed with M.E 4 years ago. Going back to one wage, with a hefty mortgage and two growing boys meant a real cut back on almost everything. The last time we had a credit card was when we were going through our major house renovation when we slightly overspent and ended up with around £1500 left to pay off on the card after our loan was used up. This took us a long while to eventually pay off, but we managed it by severely cutting back, doing without a lot of things. It was a sacrifice I’m glad we made as I haven’t got that depth of money worries keeping me awake a night. Since then we have never taken out another as it was too easy to keep adding £30 here and £50 there when we felt like it.

Now the only things we owe on is our mortgage and our car. Other than that we live on a ‘if we haven’t got the money we don’t buy it’ basis. This can be much easier said than done to be honest, there are times when watching every penny can grind you down and you think I just need a blow out of some sort. We are very lucky as both my mum and my in-laws are VERY generous when it comes to helping us out if we find ourselves in a tight financial spot but  I can imagine that this is not the case for everyone and therefore a credit card with all the low interests rates becomes an attractive alternative. In that respect I consider myself extremely lucky.

We are a family that does not care about big brand/ designer names in clothes or our house. I am a firm believer in not paying over the odds for anything and there is nothing better than a good old shop around, especially online, to find a bargain and still look nice and have a nice home without the designer price tag. My kids always come first so if they need clothes, shoes, clubs paid for, then I will sort that first. Neither of my boys have gone on a secondary school trip and my eldest is in yr10. However, they are jsut completely out of our reach. As a family we go camping as a cheap way of affording a holiday. When away we don’t tend to eat out and I will take all the necessary food and treats with us. My boys who are now 12 and 15 are very understanding and have become bargain hunters themselves ( never paying full price for a console game and buying pre owned) again being careful with their money.

However, for some people they just cannot resist and rely solely on their flexible friends to get the what they want. This can quickly build up over several cards and before they know it they really are in VERY deep. For others, it could be the situation they find themselves in, for example, a relationship break up, a loss of a job or partner and literally having no one else to turn to for help, they become reliant on credit because they need to feed themselves and their kids.I have noticed lots of money lending and quick money adverts on the TV recently and for some this can be the quick solution instead of finding a long term one.

A persons debt can be an extremely stressful thing to acknowledge without the proper advice could be difficult to face alone. Sometimes the right advice can be all that’s needed to get a persons financial status back on track. Like I say I’m fortunate enough to have family help if needed but some people have no one and get locked in a downward spiral of borrowing more and more to get them through. So get the proper debt management information for your situation in order to make the changes you may need.

 HOW DO YOU PRORITISE YOUR FINANCES?

ARE YOU A BARGAIN HUNTER OR A DESIGNER ADDICT?

**DISCLAIMER: this post comes to you in collaboration with Debt free Direct.

Love a bit of record breaking???

Then check out this new CBBC show due to start 11th March, it will run on weekdays at 7.45am.

Now I know this is rather early and lets face it usually a manic time on school days! However, thank goodness for the record button LOL. So put it to good use if your house is as manic as mine in the mornings.

In the meantime have a look at the link below to get an idea of what to expect, cross the original Record Breakers, with all the mad and awesome stuff people get up to nowadays and your will be getting close!

Officially Amazing starts this week so don’t miss it!

So you will see things like……

Longest fingernails

Longest distance dog surfs on wave!

Heaviest sportsperson,

Most people crammed into a Mini

……..and much more!

So check it out here before the show starts

50 Shades……..or a cuppa and a chunky KitKat?

Yes, Yes I know I’m sooooooooo behind everyone on this but just got the last book as one of my Christmas pressies.

To be honest I jumped on the bandwagon initially to see what all the fuss  was about. Now I couldn’t say that these were the best books I have ever read, but I will admit I did enjoy them as a trashy, no brainer, quick read!

However, by the time I got to the 3rd book I had to constantly remind myself that they still had only been together a few months and therefore they would have been ‘at it’ like rabbits.

But it did start to get on my nerves (jealous, me?…….NAH!) I found it was wasting my time a little to get to Mr Grey’s back story of his mother and adoption etc.

I did actually enjoy the last bit telling the story from his point of view and would have liked a little more of that as you would have been able to understand him a bit better.

Anyway, my point is, in the 3rd book I was really asking myself………….AGAIN……..REALLY??  2nd or 3rd time now in one day……………I THINK I WOULD BE SAYING ‘LOVELY AS THE OFFER IS ANY CHANCE OF A CUPPA AND A CHUNKY KITKAT INSTEAD!!!

So what I want to know is am I on my own with this and therefore my long suffering OH is just deprived……….or would you be in the cuppa and Kit Kat club?