Our eldest daughter, Annie Grace is back with us in Bangkok again. Yippee! The four of us together makes for a happy household – well for five minutes at least! All her three exams and zero lectures are finished for Term Three. Well worth the 3300 pounds tuition for this term (NOT!) Don’t get me started on the lack of value for money in UK university educations!
Refusing airport photos after a rough night on the plane, stuck between two inconsiderate travellers, who were as economical with their manners as they were in their flight booking. Annie explained how when she is on the aisle, (which we usually try to get) she gets up to go the loo four or five times a night, whether she wants to or not, enabling her neighbouring travellers the opportunity to stand up and make a call themselves. (I brought her up to be considerate!) Not so her neighbours! Splayed arms and immobile bodies didn’t lend themselves for Annie having a good flight. She looks exhausted in a ‘still young and gorgeous’ kind of way! I should have given her the advice on flying I shared in an earlier blog post, Flying High on Awkwardness about handling fellow travellers.
Anyway, it is great to have her home though she has gone straight off to the pool at our local Thana city country club for a swim with her sister Betsy. I’m staying home minding our dog Wizzy. Our live-in housekeeper is away and as the dog is an illegal resident in our condo I can’t let her bark. (Expat problems and no mistake!) Whilst I’m happy that she and Betsy are catching up, and she is fending off lack of sleep and the inevitable jet-lag, I am a little regretful that she isn’t here as I had hoped to spend this first afternoon together, explaining tasks I need her to help me with. In no particular order, they are:
That’s in addition, to talking her ears off and generally seeking lots of life advice. It’s struck me as interesting how often I do now seek out both my girls’ opinions and views and really take on board what they have to say. It’s weird though, as I still do exactly the same with my mum too. I’m wondering if this makes me an ‘inbetweener’ I’ve decided this is a good name for fifty somethings who defer to their youngers and also their elders as their betters. (Perhaps I’ve invented it as I know I can’t make it is an ‘influencer!
Anyway, so that the relationship isn’t too unbalanced, in return I will:
So we’ve got a nice few days in store before summer starts properly for us next week. On Wednesday, Annie will travel to London Heathrow and I will go to Humberside airport to check in with mum and dad. We get to sit together as far as Schipol so elblow room won't be a problem! Betsy goes on her after-grad trip to Koh Samui on Tuesday (I’m still preparing my lecture on dos and don’ts for it!), which will just leave poor old Saint Mick of Thana at home earning the pennies! Hmm… another part of my life where things are unbalanced. I feel a blog post coming on about how I need to return to being financially independent one of these days.
For now though, I’ll not worry about that and instead I’ll focus on savouring the smell of freshly baked bread that is coming from the kitchen right now. I mention that just to prove that, housekeeper or not, my kitchen is abuzz with home made delicious produce! Nigella eat your heart out. Did I use a breadmaker? What do you think?
I have just spent a pleasant hour reading the Kate Greenaway medal shortlisted titles for this year. It made me sad and nostalgic that I won't get to share them with the kids at school. We have always enjoyed reading them, voting for our favourite title and discussing the issues they explored. The kids made connections, sometimes even to the previous year's titles and remembered the stories way after I'd forgetten them. Sometimes we added to this a little research activity, author study quiz, or creative writing and drawing extension activity, though for me, it was always sharing the story that was fun. I'm not a big believer in forcing written responses to reading (it kind of kills the magic). Anyway, I didn't always realise it, but those were fun days.
There are, however, certain advantages to reading the books alone, by myself, from the comfort of a sofa, not least being able to enjoy a cup of tea and a hob-nob as I read. Despite being a little regretful to not be having the follow on discussion and excitement that sharing books with little people brings, I still enjoyed them and as stories are 'want to do' they got me thinking. It sort of felt like a ton of rusty doors in my old grey matter had been opened, with each room having a different set of thoughts and issues to ponder on. Consequently I've now got absolutely no idea what to blog about. There are just so many options! Will it be one of these things?:
As I say, I'm not always a fan of using reading to do follow up written work, so perhaps today I'll take it easy and just enjoy having read the Kate Greenaway stories for no reason other than the enjoyment of reading them. I'll keep the personal, social and political follow-on reflections in my head. That is, until tomorrow at least!
I’ve been learning what an ‘influencer’ is. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary an ‘influencer’ is someone who has the power to affect purchase decisions because of their relationship with an audience in a particular niche. I guess most of you knew that already, (I’m just playing catch up).
So modern influencers may well be bloggers or vloggers and other mini-celebs. Love Island stars come to mind, such as Dani Dyer, and Jack Fincham, or that sweet boy who was on Strictly, Joe Sugg and his sister Zoe. (I’ve been under her marketing influence for sure, having spent a fortune on Zoella cosmetics and beauty products for my girls.)
So influencers seem to be someone whom the ‘influenced’ by admire, relate to and quite possibly aspire to be like. I think I’m right in saying that modern ‘influencers’ have a large online following but potential short-term careers. My daughter Betsy has been filling me in about the case of you-tuber James Charles who was accused of using his money, fame and influencer online status to manipulate straight men sexually. I can’t begin to keep up with the ins and outs of the case but apparently a rival you-tuber Tati Westbrook pulled him up on it and his influencer status rapidly diminshed. The plot thickened with James defending his innocence and regaining his followers. Cosmopolitan dedicated a whole article to sharing the true story, so this is big business! It shows how being an influencer goes beyond ‘selling’ merchandise and is a powerful position to hold. I’m vaguely concerned how woefully ill informed I am about modern influencers. I’ve no idea who many of the biggest instagram social influencers are for example, yet I am happy for my kids to have exposure to their message day in day out. It feels like I’ve turned my back for a second and being ‘influencer’ aware has become a large part of parenting that I’ve completely missed. Where influencer status comes from is perhaps something worth discussing within families. It could even be explored in school tutorial programmes. The history of influencers old and new. To what extent is Mussolini similar to Nigel Farage?
I’ve been asking myself, as a new blogger, am I trying to be an influencer? If I am these are my influencer messages of the day.
Listen to middle-aged women’s podcasts such as Older and Wider. They are very funny.
Realistically I’ve a long way to go before entering the world of being an ‘influencer’. Also, I'm not sure I would be comfortable trying to persuade anyone to my way of thinking. I think I'm just more of a 'sharer' and right now my curiosity is focused on exploring how I am influenced.
I’m feeling a little bit guilty about my earlier vent. Life is picking up. The car has been taken to the repair shop. I chose not to include details in my last blog of how I had rammed it up the back-end of a pick-up truck as part of yesterday’s independent jaunt. A few other life-niggles are getting sorted out, and most importantly, my gorgeous little Betsy has finished her IB exams. Woo hoo!
I had no idea I was even stressed about Betsy’s exams, but the sense of relief I feel now is immense! She has worked her socks off, done her absolute best, hasn’t stropped (much!) and I feel massively proud. We’ve had a nice lunch, I treated her to a new top (which she may or may not wear for after-grad) and she is now watching Mamma-Mia 2. Life doesn’t get much better than that! She has big plans to make no plans, so who am I to argue?
I have big plans to try and learn from some of the mistakes I made when Annie finished her IB two years ago. This is what not to do:
Should you mistakenly do any of the above and get negative responses definitely do not persuade your child to hang out with their friends so that you can get them out of the house in order to complete the follwing yourself:
OK, I didn't do all of those things (just some!) and at least I’ve learned the error of my ways. Betsy and I have had a great post-exam afternoon of fun. Just, though, in case you are the parent of a Year 12 IB student, a little further advice for next year: do not and I repeat do not, under any circumstances, suggest that together you complete a detailed calculation of worst case and best case likely IB final attainment point score. Also, definitely DO NOT take out of your handbag a shiny new notebook, bought especially for purpose. Not sure why, but apparently it isn’t, it seems, the best choice of pastime.
IB may be over, and I no longer have kids at school, but it would seem I still have a few things to learn! Maybe it's time to add in a 'Repentant Parent' chapter to our IB book!
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I’ve spent the last couple of years really trying to have a positive growth mindset. I’ve aimed to be more zen-like than a Buddhist monk and I have a ‘gratitude’ list that spans from here (Bangkok) to Land's End. However, today I need to vent. So in no particular order and with no further ado these are things that annoy me:
Things I like:
Irony. Get it?!