Thursday, 28 October 2010

Spitting Tacks, Chewing Facts

A funny thing happened to me at the beginning of the week. The Small One and her friend set off to spend Sunday afternoon at the museum doing an art project. They were turned away because they were unaccompanied under eighteen year olds. It wasn't safe, they were told, and they came away mortified and confused.

At first I was mortified for them. Then I started to get cross, saddened we are living in a world that wants children to believe there is danger round every corner. I mulled and stewed and eventually I got in touch with a journalist friend who said Sian, this is a great story; but it's only a story if you are prepared to go on the radio and tell it. Say yes, and you are on first thing tomorrow morning.

I said yes (um, yes! surprised myself there too). I went on. I spoke about independence and adventure, about loosening the reins, letting our kids go. I got a lot of support. But, inevitably, there were critics. Of course. I was prepared for that. It was a debate. That's how the world turns. What kind of a mother, someone said, lets a twelve year old go to a museum on their own? Which made The Tall One snort with laughter and The Small One stamp her feet with rage; because they know precisely what kind of a mother I am.

So, with their encouragement, since so many of us taking True Stories are answering questions this week, I gave it some thought.

I'm the kind of mother
  • who swapped her fancy clothes for jeans so sticky hands were welcome
  • who makes, bakes and creates to satisfy a wish or a whim
  • who this week watched her son react with tact and charm to a lonely old man in need of a chat, and her daughter hold her head high and pack a swimsuit for the Leisure Centre instead. I'm proud of the pair of them.
  • who decided to speak up for what she believed and listened to the opinions of others with as much grace and good humour as she could muster. Because that's part of being a grown up and they need to know this.
  • who is willing to drop what she's doing because an essay on Macbeth needs urgent attention. Do I think Duncan is to blame? Son, give me a minute and I'll be right with you...
But I can't disappear without noting that today marks the end of my first year of blogging. I wouldn't still be here without all of you. Thank you. To Begin's The Thing wished my mum a Happy 78th Birthday. Today, I hope your 79th is a good one!

A mum or three - and you have met us all here in the past week

33 comments:

Amy said...

Well, what a week it has been!
We have had several discussions surrounding this topic, the world has changed a lot but we can't wrap our children up away from everything good the world has to offer.

It has been a fantastic year of blogging Sian, I'm looking forward to the great adventures that lie ahead in the next twelve months.

Julie Kirk said...

Many happy returns - both to your Mum and to your blog.

Congratulations for keeping your head while speaking up. It's surely been a great life lesson for Tall + Small.

:-)

JO SOWERBY said...

happy birthday to mum and high in the sky, xxxxxxxxx.
wow what a political animal u r young sian, i can imagine u routing for children everywhere who have to be accompanied by an adult. i cannot think of a more mature sounding 12 year old than the small one, and can imagine the snorts of the tall one too. macbeth, yep im sure duncan was to blame for the whole thing, well unless u consider lady macbeth's lust for power and macbeth's whimpiness in falling for it. or perhaps the grumpy old witches who got his goat in the first place. in fact shakespeare is to blame, no queen elizabeth 1...............oh now i've gone all A level english li again, those were good times.
by the wat we did othello,..........evryone is to blame and a winter's tale,............exit chased by bear. good times.
Jo xxxxx

Donna said...

Well done for being brave enough to stand up and say what you think. It's so sad to think that these days we're all so quick to jump to a judgement about other people's parenting skills and immediately respond to the percieved dangers instead of thinking 'Yay! A 12 yr old who wants to go to a museum - someone must have raised her well...!' :-) x

Amanda said...

Congratulations on your blogging birthday. Can it really be a year? I'm sure the next will be as entertaining and creative as the last.

Kirsty.a said...

Oh, it's a fine line between protection and mollycoddling, isn't it. In this case it was the museum who needed mollycoddling from potential litigation, and I suppose that is our responsibility as mothers as well - we are responsible for everything else!
Well done for speaking up.

alexa said...

Sian, I love your "I'm the kind of mother who ..." - grace and good humour are wonderful gifts. The Tall one and the Small One clearly have these in abundance too and have the great good fortune to live with adults who value and celebrate these qualities. I can think of all kinds of journalling where "I'm the kind of ..." would be perfect. many congratulations to your Mum and to you on your anniversaries, and I wish you both many happy years to come. We are the richer for having you in our lives.

Sandra said...

Sian, you know how much I love reading your blog, but this entry had me feeling really proud I know someone who isn't afraid to stand tall and say it how it is. I wish that your "kind of mother comments, could actually be put on the radio for people to really get to know the amazing mother that you are! And you've become this amaizng woman, by being given the space to grow from your own mother ... so Happy Birthday to her, and a happy birthday to High in the Sky.

debs14 said...

I can't believe you are now a radio star! I'm so impressed that you had the courage to go live on air and discuss this. I am good at having a whinge in the privacy of my own home, but not sure I would be brave enough to broadcast to an audience. Health and Safety have a lot to answer for and it is taking away a lot of the freedom to discover things naturally for our kids. But honestly, what dreadful thing could happen in a museum to two 12 year olds?! Maybe you should take them back, find the person who turned them away and ask them to point out the things that you need to avoid!

Cheri said...

What is most telling in all of this Sian, is the reaction of your own children. That they think it is ludicrous or maddening for someone to suggest "what Kind" of mother you are speaks volumes! Kudos to you. You are definitely the "kind of" mother I love to know!

Deb said...

:o) This is a fabulous post, Sian. Happy, happy birthday to your blog - and to your mom! I'm so proud of you for taking a stand, and I can feel your passion in the words you have written here. It is very sad that our children cannot be as free as we were to explore the world around them; and that some parents aren't as conscientious when it comes to teaching their children how to behave in public, ruining it for the rest of us.

When Carrie was around the age of 12 my good friend Connie was visiting from out of town. Carrie pulled Connie aside and asked her to talk me into letting Carrie go to the mall alone with a friend. Connie did, and I reluctantly allowed Carrie that bit of independence. I needed a little push, I suppose.

Anyway, great story, Sian. You have exceptional writing skills and really should write a book!!! xo

Ruth said...

Well done you! This is such an inspirational post ~ I felt so sad for the SO, but then so very proud of how she dealt with it. You're obviously a superb mum and one who has raised 2 children to be proud of, indeed.
Happy Blogiversary and happy birthday to your mum.

Rachel B said...

Good on you for standing up for what you believe in, People are too quick to make judgement before they know all the facts.

Also a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your mum and your blog :)

darkpoetess said...

what a great thing to go on the radio and be composed and humble enough to deal with all it threw at you. well done! loving the comments your post has produced, and also loving the 'i'm the kind of...' idea. oh, and I can't believe this is only one year of blogging! congrats for that.
I just think I should note here too that the word verification I had to enter to post this was 'fierst' - almost fierce, almost fiercest, but totally apt for the post! x

scrappyjacky said...

Wow....good on you,Sian....very brave to air your opinion in public like that...and I so agree with that opinion.The saddest thing is that UNICEF's own statistics suggest that the UK is one of the safest countries in the world for children.....the only danger that has truly increased in the last 40 years....is traffic danger....and yet so many people perceive danger everywhere....and wrap their children in cotton wool.
I only have to read your blog to know what sort of mother you are....a great one....and speaking of blogs.....congrats on the anniversay...may there be many more.

Maria Ontiveros said...

Happy Blog Birthday Sian! Your blog is always so well written, and today's post is no exception. I remember taking the bus for an hour down to the public beach everyday during the summer. Just one or two kids, no cell phones, no check ins. Yet we always made it back safe & sound. Were we lucky? Or have times changed? Don't know, but I do try to give my kids freedom as much as I can.
Rinda

scrapchick said...

I love this post - good for you for standing up and having courage! You're I'm the kind of mother....is so touching.

humel said...

Happy blogiversary, and happy birthday to your Mum xx

And can I also say, good for you? You are the best kind of mother, with the best kind of children. It's been such a pleasure and privilege to get to know you through your blog over this past year.

As for the independence thing, I'm whole-heartedly cheering you on - I certainly hope my kids are mature, sensible and independent enough to make their own way to and from school, to and from their friends' houses, etc - and if they choose to go to the museum (for school projects or just for fun) I'll be very proud :-)

Carmen said...

I agree with everyone else here - you are one amazing mother Sian :D And wow - I'm so proud that you did that. I've been on the radio once as part of a competition - it wasn't even live - they pre-recorded me and I still wobbled up to a falsetto voice and was shaking with nerves. But you answered back as well? Wow! You are fantastic and good for you - what a ridiculous rule indeed!

Ann said...

Happy Birthday to your Mum, Sian, and to you for one year's blogging. I haven't been with you that long but I'm hooked!
It's very sad that the museum has rules not allowing unaccompanied young children. I guess they have to draw a line somewhere and some 12 year- olds are definitely not grown up enough to go to a museum and behave well on their own! Well done you for being brave enough to air your point of view. You are obviously the kind of Mother: who's sensible, caring and capable of rearing two well-adjusted children with mature heads on them.

Tinkertaylor said...

Happy blog day, I can't believe that you have been entertaining us with your stories and observations for 12 months. Way to go on your stand for more independence for children, Health and safety has gone beserk. I'm sure your children count themselves lucky to have the kind of mother you are.

jennifer said...

Hey Sian, well done for standing up and making your point. As someone who runs kids workshops, I don't like it when kids are accompanied, because they feel restricted. Even the best mum in the world is still someone watching over their shoulder, and I think it hinders the kids imaginations as they just want to make their mum/dad happy. Also, a lot of well meaning mums/dads try to 'help' their kids, and end up taking over!

Congrats on the one year, I guess I'm coming up to that too! xx

Alana said...

Hear, hear Sian! Couldn't of said it better myself and well done for standing up for what your believe in. Your children sound like they are going to grow into well adjusted, confident young adults that you will be proud of. And hopefully they will pass on the same great beliefs and values that that they have learnt from you to their own children.

Oh and happy blog birthday!

laurie b said...

i am so proud of you for speaking your mind and confronting negativity in your community! you, your family, and all your friends know exactly what "kind of mom" you are. i grew up with a lot of freedom, along with a lot of love, and i am so grateful for the opportunities i had as a young person. you have good instincts, sian, and are right in trusting yourself.

Ginger said...

Loved your story and for standing up for what you believe! You go girl!

Sarah C said...

Happy Birthday to you both. I wonder if Shimelle's classes are going to feature in your anniversary posts each year? Poops to the museum and well done for saying yes to sticking up. You sound like an amazing Mum xx

Micayla said...

Well what a week you have had. Well done for standing your ground and opting to tell your opinion. You sound like the kind of Mum I would be very happy with, you go girl!
Happy Blog Birthday, as if it has been a year already....yay! Here's to many more. Have a lovely weekend.
xx

S said...

You go girl. Fostering the independence of children while protecting them is basic and key to being a mom, and one I know you wouldn't take lightly. It's obvious you've prepared them in lots of ways.

PS Happy blog birthday!

Clare said...

When to let your children out in the big world is always a hard one - I think as long as you are comfortable with it then that is your choice, nobody elses.
Happy anniversary to your blog, you always post something interesting and different which is refreshing!

Miriam said...

This is a brilliant post Sian. Well done for speaking up.
& Happy Blog Birthday.

Denise said...

Happy Blogversary and Happy Birthday to your mum too.
Oh the joys of that very fine line between protection and mollycoddling and letting your children have independence.Good for you for standing up to be heard, but also good for you for being accepting of the fact that it is a debate and not being single minded on the whole thing.Not easy and I am so pleased I have met you through blogland.x

Lizzie said...

Wow, well done you! I think that was quite brave of you, to go on the radio and speak up! And I thoroughly agree with you - a 12-year-old should be able to go to a museum with a friend and no-one should stop her, so long as she's well-behaved and respectful. Of course it's "safe"! I used to regularly go to the museum in our town, with a friend or two. I'd let DS go on his own now - he's just 13 and he isn't stupid.
I admire you for encouraging your children to be independant and to go and find out about the museum (or world) for themselves.

And Happy Birthday to your mum - and to "High in the Sky" too. Here's to the Next Year (and it'll be your mum's 80th birthday next year... wow!)

Liberty :) said...

LOL I laughed at the "what kind of mother.." comment. We were allowed to go into the town on the bus at 10 years old (only 15 years ago so definitely in the paranoid parent era). Of course we had to find a payphone to telephone to say we had arrived, but 12 years old going to the museum is absolutely acceptable. Do these people let their children go to school alone aged 12? I hope so! I hasten to add my mother is the kind of mother who insists on coming with me when I need to drop something off at a friend's house at night (she lives down a dark lane). I try and tell her "but mother I'm 26!!" and she says "and regardless of that fact, I'm still your mother" - so definitely protective, yet still allowed me to town aged 10. You are a fine mother and don't let anyone tell you differently.

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