Dear Jo Cox

When you were killed someone contacted me as they thought I might know you. I didn’t and as far as I know was never in the same room as you. You were clearly an incredible woman and you should still be here.

Jo Cox

I wish I had met you. I think we would have got on and perhaps more importantly got each other.

I was raised in the same area as you. That place has so many problems including generations of poverty and what Theresa May can write off so lightly as “just about managing”. Adversity creates strong communities at best and a pride in your roots.

I was surprised to hear you were shy, something I have suffered with all my life. I too get people to make phone calls for me when I bottle it. And like you, somehow against all the odds, I found myself at Cambridge University and was the first graduate in the family.

Cambridge just made me even more left-wing as I saw how easily you can be written off for having gone to the wrong school or not having the right accent. I have always worried about my Yorkshire accent and yet listening to you speak in the House of Commons, you used your voice with its beautiful accent not trying to pretend you were anyone but you.

You were a few years younger than me so our paths did not cross in the beautiful city of Cambridge.

How brave you were to go off to live in another country working in Brussels. Another beautiful city. Your family must have been so proud of you.

Then to Oxford and Oxfam where I worked for a period too. No wonder I was asked if I knew you. You and I have shared pavements.

How you juggled all the amazing feats with having a young family I do not know.

Yesterday I read your husband’s description of you life and how you put your children first. It made me make changes to my day to ensure I was doing the same with mine. Too often I put other responsibilities first when what matters is making memories with the children.

I have often wondered about returning to West Yorkshire. Should I return whatever skills I have to the town that welcomed me into their community and funded my through university. People who never left probably think I have had an exciting life and that is true. But how I miss the familiar structures of home. That place has a great way of instilling the right values and perhaps particularly in its women. Now I am wondering if I should leave the country altogether as it has not served me and my family well. I wonder what you would make of that.

You were killed and that can never be put right. But so many things can be and I hope all of us are moved by your story and your strength of character and take baby steps to be better mums, to think globally and to do out bit.

Rest peacefully.

The Pramshed
Diary of an imperfect mum

Sweet sixteen is a distant memory for me but I do remember my Mum telling me I should go on the pill immediately. Strange birthday present was my thought. I had no intention of having sex quite possibly ever and certainly not any time soon.


My oldest son turns 16 tomorrow. I have felt fed up all day even though things have gone well. He is not a hugely demanding kid so his present wishes are manageable enough and will make him happy. He’s a bright, sensitive and loving boy who still gives him Mum a hug and brings her little gifts. He also eats junk food and has an amazing ability to ignore the mess in his bedroom which I guess is fairly average for a 15 year old lad.

Where has 16 years gone? I certainly did not turn into the sort of mum I had hoped I would be. He has had plastic toys, watched copious amount of television and I lost the battle completely when my Mum bought him a games console when he was about 9 years of age. Guess what he is doing now? Yup!

I feel sad. I saw a pram outside a shop today and my heart ached a little. I have bleated on for years about all the challenges and restrictions of parenting and yet … Can I go around again? Can I meet him for the first time and tell him that I am clueless so will be relying on him to be the parent? Can I hear him say “Rover” as his first word because that is his granddad’s car? Can I watch his obsession with all things Thomas the Tank engine grow? Not to mention Bob the Builder. Can I go to my late parent’s home again and see the special desk they bought him or relive the Christmas where they got him the ride on car which would a few months later lead to him terrifying us by going for a drive in the village without telling us. There is the cute red and yellow uniform that he wore to his Montessori nursery that set him on absolutely the right path considering the horrors of our education system to come. Can I laugh until I cry at the Nativity play where he refuses to get off centre stage and keep flashing his “big boy pants?”

He is lovely. He has my wild untamed curl and my good skin. He has a round face like his Dad. He is tall already towering above my husband. He really is a young man. I can see this and I am proud. He is the boy who when a kid called him gay said “I am not but there is nothing wrong with gays anyway”. He is the one who stood up for a child who was bullied in a racist manner on a playground. He hates injustice. He listens to me when it really matters and bores me crazy about video games at other times. He is wonderful but can I just stop and go around with him again?

As for the sex thing, he reckons he is more interested in learning to drive. Some things don’t change!

Knee high boots and I have an odd relationship, When I was younger, I felt they were way too sexy for someone like me to wear. By the time my confidence kicked in, I was very overweight and could not find any that would fit my chubby calves.

I bought some with the intention of losing weight and I actually did perhaps motivated by the killer knee high boots in black. I wore them everywhere and they were so comfy I even used them in the house as possibly the most stylish pair of slippers ever. I wore them so much that eventually they became very tatty.

I was delighted when I was asked to review a pair from of knee high boots from JDWilliams.

I love boots of all types. At college I never wore anything else and people used to comment on that as part of my quirky character. So I had good fun looking at the diverse range of boots on the JDWilliams website. I was also really impressed to see that they cater for ladies with small or big calves – inspired!

It took me a while to decide but look at these beauties!

knee high boots

They are so classy and arrived in beautiful packaging and feel like such a treat for my feet.

It was lovely to have a little nudge from Mich about reasons to be cheerful. So what are the happy things in my world this week?

1. I had an appraisal at work and got in a bit of a tizz about it in advance. It went well and has made me feel more settled. I even have some money to spend on my own training now so am going to have fun looking around for interesting opportunities.

2. I feel there is more balance in my life. It’s still not quite the dream but I am working towards it all the time. I am being more selfish and I think that is probably long overdue. If you go unappreciated, you may as well stop trying, right?

3. The children are fine. I think we all could do with a holiday so need to think about that.

4. So far I am not falling for the Christmas hype. The children are older so I really think I will keep Christmas very simple this year. We may even go and volunteer somewhere for part of the day as a family.

5. This year I feel able to wear a poppy which means I have forgiven and forgotten recent events but have learned again to honour our veterans including my father and grandfather. Healing is lovely when it comes.

6. I have given up on fairy tale happy endings that rely on other people. I am going to create my own and has daft as it sounds I am actively enjoying the journey.

7. I find less things get to me. It seems in middle age, I will finally feel a sense of peace and self-love.

Will that do?

Learning how to make friends is something all children go through as part of their development. But not all children get the cues that another child wants to make friends. No parents want to see their children grow up without friends, so it’s natural to make an effort to help them along.

As a general rule, the worst thing a parent can do in this situation is to talk about it openly. It’s rare that starting a conversation about their children’s lack of friends or pressuring their children to make a change will help shy or reluctant children. Here are some tips to help your kids make friends without being obvious about it.

Work on Basic Manners

making friends

Image via Flickr by sinclair.sharon28

Being polite is something that kids should learn, and parents can make sure their kids do by reinforcing niceties when appropriate. It’s also important to encourage children to share what they have with others. Sharing encourages a sense of community and friendship with others, and it shows children how to create a bond with another human being. Toys are also tools for teaching sharing skills. Toys made for multiple users are helpful in showing young children how cooperation works, and board games made for older kids create a sense of camaraderie.

Keep Appearances Neat and Clean

Kids tend to be visual when it comes to judging both surroundings and people. When they see a playmate who doesn’t look quite put together, kids interpret it as a signal that the other child is different. This can lead to avoidance and even bullying. That doesn’t mean kids need to dress in the latest fashions, but as a general rule, they should dress in clothes that match, change regularly, and keep their clothes relatively clean.
Parents can help kids fit in and keep up appearances by teaching them the importance of looking decent for school. It never hurts to give kids a reward in the form of new clothing, but there’s no need to purchase name brand clothes at full price in order to encourage kids to look good. Coupons can help parents buy something nice for their children’s school wardrobe without paying full price.

Host and Attend Parties

Getting together a group of kids presents an opportunity for your child to socialize and make friends. Kids typically want to invite people they like or kids they want to get to know. What they might not realize is that they can also exercise their social skills and learn how to make friends. While they most likely won’t make best friends with everyone that comes to the party, kids can leave the party with the knowledge of how to interact with and learn about others.

All children are different in how they learn how to make friends. As a parent, you can use your influence to help your kids gain necessary interaction skills that serve them well now and later in life.