It was my wedding anniversary today (23 years!) and I was very lucky to receive a lovely card and gift from the old fella. This has gone hand in hand with compliments and kindness throughout the day. I’m feeling a bit guilty though as, whilst I am fairly sure I had bought Mick a card, at some point, it was nowhere to be found this morning. I really don’t know what happened to it. The same goes for my gift for him - also missing. I can explain this; it hasn’t yet been purchased or thought about and realistically isn’t ever likely to be. Why do we have celebrations anyway?
Tiger Parent or Alley Cat?
I was having an on-line catch up with a teacher friend the other evening and asked her what her holiday plans were. She explained that they weren’t going away as her daughter was revising for her IGCSEs, so it made sense to stay home. I know for myself the pressures of our kids studying hard and I quipped that she was being a ‘Tiger Mum’, to which she responded more like a ‘Soi Cat Mum’ (alley cat to non-Thais). A laugh out loud moment! Of course, my friend was being neither a tiger parent or an alley cat. Rather, she was being a good mum, creating a positive learning environment for her daughter, in which she could prepare well and fulfil her maximum exam potential. Oh Lordy – I sound like such a sincere teacher-y type some times!
What is Middle-Aged?
How you know you're Middle-Aged
IOne of the things I used to love about watching Men Behaving Badly starring Caroline Quentin, Lesley Ash, Martin Clune and Neil Morrissey was how they created humour from exploiting clichéd stereotypes. I remember an episode where the characters Gary and Tony were horrified about the idea of Dorothy moving in with them. The fear was that Dorothy would make their place too girly and fill it with cushions. Sure enough, at the end of the episode there were` Gary and and Tony sitting on the sofa, beer in one hand, and cushion in the other, begrudgingly accepting of their changed circumstances.
Nowadays I seem to spend half of my life saying goodbye, either to friends and family in Bangkok and Broughton, or witnessing others say goodbye at train stations and airports. In fact I’m starting to feel like I am living that scene in the credits at the end of Love Actually, an array of touching and heart –warming reunions amongst family and friends. The difference is I’m doing it in reverse and focusing on the goodbye, rather than the re-union part, which makes it a bit sad and lacking the feel good factor of the film! On the plus side, I feel I have become quite the expert on the different types of farewells that exist.
This week I’ve been on the receiving end of loads of small kindnesses.
Many moons ago, when Saint Mick and I were first teaching in Tanzania a teaching couple called Linda and Earl (last names now forgotten) invited us for Christmas lunch. They were of the mindset that if they were kind to other people’s kids (us), then someone somewhere would hopefully be being kind to their own absent children.
Perhaps some kids are born innately kind and others aren’t. I started to write that my own kids are blessed with the kindness gene, but, thinking about it, we do have old video footage of Annie, at only 18 months, giving her baby sister a hairbrush to hold, so as to take a ball – the preferred toy of choice – from her. An arguably kind action that was actually completely self-serving. Manipulation not kindness being the order of the day!
It’s possible to argue, and I think I probably do, that Linda’s and Earl’s act of kindness was also actually a selfish act - more Thomas Hobbes than John Locke! I even think I agree with Hobbes that people actions are all based on selfishness. What I’m not sure about though, is whether this means that life has to be ‘nasty, brutish and short’ for us all.
As adults, if my own kids can make someone else smile or feel good then they do so without thinking ‘what’s in it for me’. The same for all the other people who have shown me kindness this week. Everyone’s ability to be kind is though a learned behaviour and if we go with Hobbes, it is ultimately self centred, even if not self-consciously so. I wonder, does that really matter? What do you think?