Tuesday, 18 September 2012

She wore an itsy bitsy, teen weeny, mustard yellow, crochet-string, bikini

Two things happened this week.

1) I sat on the beach at the weekend, with my family, relaxing. The children played (ate sand, knocked over sandcastles and threw bombs stones in the sea) whilst I people-watched (discreetly as I was wearing sunglasses).

I happened to be taken by a lovely, boden-clad family. There were two Mums and 2 boys and a girl. I couldn't tell which child belonged to which, but that didn't matter. What was more interesting was that at first I couldn't tell what gender the children were. They were aged between 8 and 11 and all wearing beach shorts nothing on the top. It wasn't until the middle child took of a baseball cap and a mop of long hair was let loose that I realised she was in fact a girl.

How refreshing to see a young girl innocent, free and comfortable on the beach.

She reminded me of me. My younger self. This one...

Sporting the towelling stripey trunks. Think they may have even had a 'Y' on the front too.

Me, my grey knickers, my crisps and my ball!

Going topless in a dinghy

I never owned a "two piece" as a child. In fact I was under the belief that girls either got a swimming costume or trunks. I thought you could only get bikinis if ... you know <whispers> had boobs! This is because my Mum only ever bought us the bottoms, and in the earlier days when she couldn't find any for girls, as they didn't sell bikinis for babies then, she would put us in trunks.

She said we were happier in them. Which we probably were. The one summer she did by us a swimming costume for our  hols we spent the whole summer unstrapping them and rolling them down to our middle. Trendsetters that we were.

But she's right swimming costumes are uncomfortable and down right painful when sand is involved too.

When were about 8 and 9 we got given a binbag of "hand me downs" from  a second cousin. Amongst the usual dross we came across 2 bikinis - one green and pink! I begged my mum to let me wear one for my swimming-themed birthday party. Surprisingly she agreed; I emotionally blackmailed her saying it was the only thing I wanted for my birthday. However, the joy was short lived, because as soon as the wave machine came on the damn thing untied itself and floated away! Turned out my. mum had taken us to one of those feminist water-parks.

2) Jessica Simpson shared this picture of her daughter on live TV...

Maxwell looking comfortable and at ease in her two piece

Babies in bikinis! What is that all about? I thought we had hit ridiculous-celebrity-parenting- mecca with Suri Cruise and the high heels. But no, it seems to have got worse. And just like Suri and those sodding heels, I feel a parenting "trend" starting and it makes me feel a little sick.

Now, I don't have daughters, so you can shoot me down in flames because I don't know how hard a 4 year old girl will scream if you don't let them wear a pair of heels to a birthday party or school disco! But I'm pretty sure if my hypothetical daughter did my response would be: "Fine! You don't go."

There were things I begged my Mum for that I never got. A bikini, obviously, the Clarks shoes with a slight heel and a secret key hidden it (you know the ones) and a perm (thank god). And yes we probably kicked up a stink. My god some of my tantrums became urban legends amongst the townsfolk round here. But she still said no. Because all girls want to dress sup and pretend to be "grown-ups" but there is a place for that and it is in the same room as the dressing up box.  Because as parents we have the responsibility to make sure are children are safe, comfortable and, primarily, children.

The desire to over-sexualise young girls, and now babies, with adult clothing is something I cannot get my head round. Please for the love of god encourage them to be kids.  They have so many years ahead of them to battle with badly fitting bikinis and to struggle with walking in heels, for now just let them play at being grown ups. but the rest of the time, what's wrong with them looking and acting like children?

Plus, every girl I have seen totter into a birthday party in a pair of "Suri" heels has kicked them off within 2 minutes so they can run around with the other kids.  So they can do the things children really like doing: being free and unconstrained - from adult concepts as well as inappropriate adult clothing.

The bikini as an item of clothing is burdened with sexual connotations. The media uses the word "bikini" as a weapon: each summer it is a measure of which celebrity bodies are "bikini-proof". Our younger generation is being suffocated by a pressure to become part of an adult world too soon. A world that is saturated with body-image, sex and the pressure to "fit-in". How early are we introducing our children to this world? And how long are we going to let celebrities and the media dictate how we bring up our children?

For me, the one gift we can give are children for free is innocence and the longer they can enjoy it, the happier they will be as adults.

But if you disagree with me, you are in good company. This week the fabulous parenting role model Liz Hurley has bought out her own designer children's swimwear collection... IN LEOPARD PRINT!

Because Liz Hurley has just the wholesome image a children's clothing line needs.
Are we really allowing celebrities to set trends in parenting? People who are out of touch with the real-world, with real parenting issues and real children who need to be told the word "no". Where the sole aim is to desperately claw at some good publicity, and detract from the fact they haven't lost their baby weight and are being squeezed into a heavily structured, black dress for their TV reveal? (I'm talking Jess Simpson here) Really? *These people*

Just look at all the  fuss the Duchess of Cambridge has caused by removing her bikini top... How does your 5 year old feel about that? Couldn't care less? Wouldn't understand? Wouldn't want to or need to? Mine neither.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

No Children Please!

Ok, so there are places that are appropriate for children and there are places that aren't.

We all know that.

I haven't taken my kids out clubbing with me (because the last time I went was 2002) or to theatre to watch Our Country's Good (also in 2002). But I wouldn't anyway. I rarely take them to a restaurant these days, unless it has a huge outdoor space when they can partake in some lungeing pony training  to tire them out before they are forced to sit still for 3 and half minutes.

But before I had kids you wouldn't have found me eating in Pizza Hut at 5.00pm.

Like I was saying, there are places you expect to find kids and places you don't.

And maybe I am out of touch, but two places I expect to find children is on aeroplanes and at weddings!

Before I had kids. I travelled A LOT more. We had holidays back then you see, real ones, where you go to another country - one that is hot! And do you know what? I can't remember there NOT being  a child on the flight. In fact, I think on every flight I had a small child in the same row as me. But I expected that. I expected them to be sat right next to me and scream the whole 4 hours. And if they didn't then it was a bonus.

But  if there was a noisy child  on the flight, do you know what I did? I put my ear phones on and I watched a film or played some music. And I didn't hear a thing. Simple.

I find the fact that an American couple, who were taking their twin boys on a  trip to visit their Grandparents, felt the need to provide "apology" gifts to the whole plane, absolutely ludicrous.

Here's the gift bag... some sweets, a sickly note written by over thoughtful Mum and dad, the twins, and ear plugs.

Only in America! Where you have to fly everywhere because it's massive!

Apparently the apology for reproducing "gifts" took ages to prepare... Which boils my piss even more as THEY have twins! How did they find the time? Just look after your babies. Every one else will cope. I'm sure they've heard worse.

So sorry folks, from now on we are all going to look like thoughtless bastards if we just show up at the airport with our kids. And if you do, you'll probably get some joker in a suit, sat in front of you, who says "Where's my present?" as soon as your child starts to whinge. It's ok, you have my permission to give him a bunch of fives!

I recently took a one hour flight with three kids. Four including my nephew, who was also on the flight. The kids were really well behaved on the plane, to be fair they ran riot round the airport but on the plane they were good. But still a jumped up, spotty student still felt the need to turn round and give me daggers every time my 8 month old babbled. Babbled. Not cried or screamed, he just babbled. If I hadn't been too busy giving out lollies, breast feeding, loading games on i pads, reading a book, colouring in and singing a nursery rhymes I would have stuck my middle finger up his upturned nostrils. But I was too busy ensuring my children were entertained. I was parenting. So, instead I wished him the worst fate I could think of. I wished him a colicky baby. Therefore, in the future when he was was pacing the streets in  the middle of night, begging for sleep, clawing at the edges of sanity, he would look back on that flight to Newquay and think "my God that women had a well-behaved baby. What an ignorant little cock I was?"

Which brings me nicely on to weddings...

Weddings? Yes weddings, that FAMILY occasion, where the FAMILY comes together to celebrate a couple who are statistically very likely to have children, if they haven't already.

 So with it being such a family occasion I cannot fathom why some people make it a"No children affair".

What are they afraid of? They might make a noise during a speech? Well at least someone will, chances are it's going to be naff anyway. They might not match with the colour scheme? They might have fun? Fart? Breathe?

Do you know what? I'm already bored of your wedding. I'm glad I'm not going.

Some people have said their parent guests asked them to make it "no children" - who are these people with unlimited baby sitters? And why did they have children? Was it purely because they felt left out because they couldn't shop in Mamas and Papas?

But it's their wedding, it's up to them. Just please don't send me an invite saying "No Children Affair" on it. Please don't expect me to face the guilt of asking someone to look after my 3 kids for a whole day AND night. And if by some miracle, I do find that angel, then please don't let me come to your "No Children Affair" to discover there are actually children there. The "special" children who are allowed to go, because they are under strict instruction not to be child-like  blood relatives. The ones who are bored shitless, because they are stuck with loads of pompous adults who don't want to interact with them. The ones who are having their playful souls ripped from their chests as they watch Uncle Knobhead get wankered.

My brother got married recently. We took our kids. So did everyone else who had them. In fact it was more of "please bring your children, and if you don't have any bring someone else's" kind of an affair.

And yes. I spent most of the day, along with The FH, running after them. It was hard work. Children are. I'm afraid that comes as part of the "having a family" package. It is hard work. But it was still good fun. We all had a cracking day. The kids especially. They loved it. And I am so glad that the experience wasn't taken away from them for fear of spoiling it for the grownups.