Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mummy is scared..

So how's everyone's Christmas preparations coming along?  We're pleasantly ahead of the game this year.  Christmas cards written & posted, including abroad cards & any postable presents to far away relatives (only a couple). 

We put the tree up on 1st December - partly because we just wanted to, but also because we had friends and family coming last weekend for early Christmases so we thought it would be nice to be festive.

Christmas presents virtually all bought and wrapped, ready.  Only one outstanding I think.  And this includes DS's forth coming 9th birthday - eeeeek!  Only one more year after this & both my babies will be in double figures!  Yikes!  Where did that time go?

And it's been a helluva year one way & another.  In many ways I cannot wait to see the back of it. 

And now one final hurdle, before we can wave this year good bye.

Some of you will remember my 'On this day' post earlier this year, when I wrote about some particularly unpleasant emergency surgery I had 14 years ago, on the first anniversary of my Dad's death. It was a horribly difficult time, and I lost a lot, not only that day but in the 18 months or so afterwards that it took for me to make a full physical recovery (the emotional one is always going to be a work in progress I think).

And this year hasn't been the best for me, healthwise.  Now I'm facing surgery again.  On Saturday.  Which would've been my Dad's birthday. And I'm trying to write about it here. In the hopes it will make me feel less anxious, less afraid.  But I'm struggling to be honest, to find the words......

I think I am ready, as ready as I can be.  We are Christmas ready, the chores are all done, cupboards, freezer & bathroom all stocked up. Bag packed. Childcare sorted until Wednesday at least. 

So there's nothing else to say really.  Except that I'm scared......

I originally met with a consultant months ago, who said they wanted to do this surgery.  I said no, no and thrice no!  And then no, followed by a lot more no's.

This was a Friday. 

5am the following Monday I was hospitalized with the pain.  Because God thinks it is funny to give me lessons like this..

So I had a CT scan, bloods, was prepped for theatre, lines put in, nil by mouth (always fun with diabetes....) but tbh I wouldn't have kept anything down anyway. 

And I waited, for about 10 hours with my friend (another friend looking after my kids) and there was no theatre space, so I went home. I was meant to be called back but they lost my notes, so my GP had to re-refer and I had to wait at the bottom again.

Finally saw another consultant, who was lovely. He had the nicest letter from my GP, which was so nice he read it out to me!  Then he talked with me through all my no's.  Offered, promised to do the surgery himself. Offered me a weekend slot.  Arranged for me to be first on the list so no waiting on the day.  I couldn't have asked or hoped for more.

But still I am scared.  And I don't really know what else to say about that except that I am xx

Friday, 24 November 2017

Product Review - Letterbox Lab

Back in September (to my enormous shame) our friends at Letterbox Lab were kind enough to send us another box of their lovely experiments.

Fate & time have transpired against us but at last we have managed to get stuck in and have some super STEM fun.

We received their Investigate Box number 2 - Science up your Sleeve.

Packed with hands on experiments, with fast results, and everything you need included. Even the instructions this time were part of the fun, written on dissolvable paper!

Now one of the things we LOVE about Letterbox Lab - besides the fact the do everything for you, it fits through your Letterbox, the packaging is cool........ - is that the instruction book is clear, bright, engaging & manageable for the children to work through by themselves.  All I am needed for is a little supervision, which is great for their independence and holding their interest -

The kids had fun making their own magic wand - first levitating feathers with a balloon - then levitating Meg & Pico (tracing paper versions!) with their magic wand.

In total there are 8 experiments in the box. We enjoyed Writing with Light and Disappearing Water.  Pico in a Cage & Blooming Flower were also good fun.  But DD's favourite by far was Vanishing Flame -

The instructions re-cap every stage, explaining and reinforcing what you have just learned and asking questions to promote further investigation.

We loved that even when some of the experiments didn't go according to plan, there was still something to learn from the results. Which promotes resilience and inquisitiveness in children, and is great for their confidence as there is no feeling of failure, simply to look further into why you think the experiment didn't go as you expected, and whether or not that can be rectified.

It really is a great product, with everything you need to get stuck straight in, learning & having fun.

Find out more here -

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Support for 'Accepting Yourself'

I originally 'soft published' the post 'Accepting Yourself - You Are Good Enough' to under 100 Facebook followers, as I wanted to gauge people's reactions and also stall a bit lol while I decided whether or not I was ready to publish it.

I was overwhelmed by the support. 

Here are a handful of the messages and comments I received.  I have collated and published them here, because I hope they will help anyone else in any kind of similar situation, because we are all warriors. We are all ALL of these things xxxx

Hayley - Beautiful, you are one of the most sincere, holistic, kind, thoughtful and inspiring people I know and I totally admire you for everything you do! So many could learn so much from you, your life, your choices and you absolutely should be talking to the world. I don’t know how you get through every day but I do know that right now I just want to give you a big squeeze and say never change! those who judge are insecure in their own choices and really not worth the give so much to so many and I ❤️you!

Emma -  I honestly couldn't have worded it better. Beautifully written. We love you x

Terrie - You're one tough lady, you always pick up and move on. Give yourself some love. Hugs girly x

Angie -  I don’t know what surgery you had done but it was obviously very serious and clearly has left you traumatised to this day. All I know is when I look at you I see before me a beautiful soul with a huge heart. I know what it’s like to always be apologising - but you have nothing to apologise for. Just carry on doing what you do, which is being awesome. I’m blessed to have you as a friend xxx

Debbie -  Omg ๐Ÿ˜ฎ How unprofessional! Don't let anyone ever make you feel like that again , you're beautiful inside and out and I’m so, so proud of how far you have come, you should be patting yourself on the back for all you have achieved, I love you so much xxxx

Sue - When we go through very traumatic things, they can leave there mark. But it can also make you very strong and appreciate what you have.
Look ahead to your wonderful life, with its natural ups and downs.
Feel proud of who you are, and what you have accomplished.
Plus your two wonderful children, that you have brought up with a lot of love in their hearts. Which is plainly obvious to see, by the caring way they acted after your visit to the hospital.
People can say some really hurtful things, but no matter how hurtful it is leave the nasty words with them. Don’t take it on board, it may have made her feel better about herself, but you can close your mind to her words.
It’s her thoughts, it doesn’t have to be yours.
Love yourself and all that is you.
Thank you for sharing, your words can have a Big positive change to others that are going through something that’s very hard for them.
Love and best wishes beautiful lady, inside and out

Kim - You are kind, and brave, and beautiful. Don't ever forget that. Also, it's totally OK to feel sorry for oneself from time to time, and it really doesn't matter that other people have it "worse". You are entitled to feel however you feel, in any given moment, about your own situation. I'm proud of you for living your truth, and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself xx

Kara - Beautifully written it seems to me that this whilst painful is a beautiful growth of character and bringing clarity to yourself to know your self better, these are the tears of freedom. For the record you are amazing, your children will not grow and think anything other than you were an amazing mum, the mum who was always there for them no matter what. You have this amazing strength, broken though you are, to just stand and be there holding the gap for others. Keep doing what you do and never change you are brilliant you amaze and inspire me x

Julie -  Beautiful post, plenty of food for thought for myself there as well. I'm not a confident person, I apologise far to much, and I do my best to conform, to society's expectations. Your talent with words and expressing your thoughts, is amazing. Don't change for anyone, your perfect just as you are.

Susan -  Just wanted to say that I think you're amazing. I personally enjoy reading your Blog, your posts are always honest and refreshingly real.  I'm sure this will be helpful to others xx

Hannah - You're a strong and brave lady, don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Accepting Yourself - You're Good Enough

So today I am going to write a very personal post and then decide afterwards whether or not I am going to publish it!

Life is trundling on.  I'll admit September & October were not the easiest to get through. Change of routine, a birthday, transitions and bad weather left tempers high and spirits low and it was largely a case of simply getting through the days.  We seem to have ridden through that and are now looking forward to Christmas and all the fun stuff we have planned until then.

Home Ed wise we are more unstructured than ever!  Sometimes I worry that I am not 'doing enough'.  The devil on my shoulder is constantly whispering that DS should be doing more formal learning, and would DD achieve even more if I pushed her?  I already know the answers, I saw it with my own eyes when they were in school.  What we do is right for them.  They will, hopefully, not have to unpick a life of damaged self esteem, bad decisions and poor mental health because they were pushed into holes they didn't fit in.  I have to remind myself constantly that this, above all else, is our goal.  Anything else can be learned as we go, when needed.  Quality of life and their mental health is by far the most important thing to me.

But, as I have shared before, we are judged. Constantly.  On our choice of lifestyle.  Undoubtedly by those who are unhappy with theirs.  The ' What's she got to be so happy about?' crowd....

Well, do you know what, no more than you to be honest.  But I choose all the clichรฉs, to see the glass half full, to look at the stars.  Because I tried it the other way.  The comparisons, the judging and criticizing others, the discontent. The carrying everyone else and never even knowing or acknowledging my own needs.  All of it.  And it was miserable.  Dreadful.  And slowly but surely it was killing me - metaphorically and in a very actual real way.  My health suffered, I was always ill.  There is only so much negativity you can absorb, only so long you can stay in the shadows before it starts to take it's toll.

I've also shared before that I completely lost my sense of self.  It was a big part of why I added my name, my actual real life name, recently on Twitter.  Because although I am fiercely protective of my children & their privacy - we discuss everything I share & I hope we are careful always - it was important for me to step out of the shadows and own who I am.  Be a person again.  Not just Mama.  (Not that there is any such thing as 'just' Mama).

I shared this quote this morning -

And it resonated with me because I know I have been apologizing my whole entire life.  I am still apologizing.  For being too big, too tall, too ginger, too outspoken, too sarcastic, too socially awkward, too opinionated, too clever, too quick, too slow, too capable, too strong, too female, too successful, too emotional, too much.  Always trying to fit other people's molds and apologizing endlessly when I don't - even when my only 'failure' has been that my wings cracked their mold because they wanted to fly.....

This week I had a horrible experience that unceremoniously transported me to my darkest place.  The place I don't like to visit but I accept is there.  Sadly I do visit, more frequently than I would like but in my life I have been blessed with The Most Amazing friends that pull me back.  I have friends that have been with me my whole life long, others 30 years, 20, 10 and they keep on coming.  Beautiful, wonderful, special souls that see into your heart and laugh and cry with you and love you fiercely. And I cannot ever put in to words how very grateful I am to each and every one of them because I know I am unutterably blessed.

But, anyway, back to the sad bit... I had to pop to the hospital for an assessment this week.  I did not want to talk about this but unfortunately it is relevant to what follows. So yes I hate hospitals blah-de-blah and because of the infection control guidelines now, I had to be swabbed even though my last surgery was 14 years ago - and I've written about that horrifically traumatic debacle previously.  I wasn't expecting this.  But more so I was not expecting the nurse to gasp at my scarring, ask 'what is it?' and 'is that what we are 'fixing' when you come in?' .........  It's not.  That's just my life that I have to live with now.  But thanks SO much for asking!

She regained her composure, while I fought to regain mine, she was over-compensatingly nice to the kids (because yes, of course, my kids are always there....) and then I took them off the McDonalds as a treat for them while I stared at the ceiling willing myself not to cry into my coffee & DD asked me a thousand times if I was ok.  'Your face isn't ok Mummy' she kept saying 'I'm sorry I'm fussing you but your face isn't ok.'

So Mummy laughed a little and said things about feeling a bit tired this morning, and not particularly enjoying going to the hospital and how silly that was of Mummy because hospitals are good places....

And we went home, and I settled them in to their activities in other parts of the house, and retreated for a private cry.  Well, lets call it a sob, a real broken wave of sobs.  Because that nurse's reaction was everything I fear and everything I feel and everything I chastise myself about daily.  I know all the things to tell myself.  That it doesn't matter. That I lived. That it doesn't change who I am as a person.  That people all over the world have so very much worse to deal with and are brave and beautiful and strong. That there are people who would give anything, anything for my life in comparison with theirs.  And I know all these things are Truths.

And ok we could talk about her lack of professionalism in that moment and be all blamey but that's really not the point either.

And so I reached out and talked to a friend. Because I couldn't pick myself up. I wanted to lock my door and never leave the house again. And of course that is not reality.  I had the day to get on with, my kids be there for, so I couldn't let these feelings settle over me.  And I knew this friend would understand, and she did. She said all the right words, and more. Everything I would have said to someone else and so very much more.  And left me smiling, and sniffing, and ready as I would ever be to carry on my day.

But still it sat perched on my shoulder, will always sit on my shoulder. My proverbial parrot.

And so it occurred to me, when I shared that quote this morning that this is yet another thing I shouldn't feel I have to be apologizing for.  I am not Wrong.  I spend my life telling my kids they are Not Wrong, to embrace all their wondrous quirks and magnificence and throw love and kindness out into the world as if they were the only lights in the darkness.  And then there's Mummy, apologizing for what?  Surviving?  Not having a beautiful body?  Oh the irony!

So this is why I am blogging this morning about something that makes me feel I want to hide and die of shame. 
Because there should be no shame. 
14 years ago I had very traumatic emergency surgery that changed my life and saved my life.  Why am I sorry?
I think it's time now to let that go, or if not 'go' then at least let it out and hopefully be a little less afraid, a little more brave and be a bit more Emma Jane.

Thanks for reading x

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Quite a day

So it's been a while since I've written, and both recently and today especially I have been asked ALOT about our decision to Home School, how we do it, why we do it and how I'm managing.....

I've Blogged about this before.  A lot ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Alot of people assume it's because of the children's autism, their 'additional needs' and sometimes yes I am guilty of hiding behind that as an excuse to justify our choices to the more pressingly, intrusively skeptical out there.  But the truth is we would have ended up here anyway - of that I am sure.

I always wanted to be a teacher, a primary school teacher.  I went to uni to study just that, and realized within weeks that it wasn't for me.  Not because I don't love kids, I do, so much.  But because I knew I couldn't be part of a system I would want to fight against day in day out.

When I did my early teaching practice, I was placed in the largest primary school in Britain, in reception class. In a blended class of 90 (yes 90!) 4 and 5 year olds, with 3 teachers.  Wow!  What a learning curve!

I knew almost immediately it wasn't going to be for me.  But one thing above all made this decision crystal clear for me.  One little girl.  One darling little girl who took a shine to me from the first moment, latched on to me, followed me around, not talking, week on week.  I think my third or fourth week in to practice she took me by the hand, she was holding a book.  We sat down on a bean bag together in the reading corner and I started to read her the story.  She smiled her little smiles, encouraged me on with her eyes or a hand gesture, and eventually took the book and started trying to read some of the words back to me, and pointing to the pictures and saying the words for them.  This is the first time she had spoken to me, at all.  This led into a full two-way conversation.  I noticed, after a time, the Deputy Head teacher was watching us with keen interest.  At break time, he asked me to stay behind to talk to him. 

Naturally I wondered what about.  I thought I would probably get 'told off' for spending too much time with just one child.  But he simply asked me what we had been doing, why I was reading to her.  I told him, she had come to me with the book.  When I said she had spoken aloud to me for the first time, he did a sort of double take and asked me several times to clarify this.  Turns out this sweet child hadn't spoken at all, to anyone, ever, from the day she started school.  Not one word.

After school that day her Mum and her older sister came in to the school to meet me.  There was a meeting with us & the deputy head.  I was 18 years old and so far out of my depth.  How, they all wanted to know, how had I got her to speak to me when no-one else could.  She didn't even talk at home apparently.  There were tears, and desperation.  In my immaturity, I didn't know what to say.  I don't know why she chose me, only that she did.  Perhaps precisely because I didn't ask, I listened, to what she didn't say, and sat and played with her in her silent world.  Perhaps it was this that made her want to come out of it.  I don't know, I will never know, but I knew in that moment I could not do that job.  I would have been too emotionally involved. I would have never switched off.  I would have wanted to save, heal, help every child that passed through my class, until it broke me.  Working against a system that is not geared to hear children, to see them, to allow them to find their voice. I couldn't do it.

Years later, when I had children of my own, I had huge nagging doubts about school. Huge. DD struggled hugely at nursery, to find her place, to be understood and when DS started nursery he cried almost every day and begged and begged and begged not to go, to stay with Mummy, he needed Mummy.  And I listened to the professionals, that told me I had to keep bringing him, force through the separation anxiety, get him ready for school.  Oh how I wish I hadn't.

As each of my children started school I watched them slowly unravel before me.  I tried to throw myself into Mum-life, School-life.  I'm not a natural girl's girl.  I never was.  I like a mix of company, a variety of subjects, I like fun and laughter but I also like deep conversations, honest conversations.  I like to go about my business without being judged or compared.  Any Mum will tell you, this is impossible at the school gates.

But I tried to suppress my issues.  Joined the PTA, Board of Governors (at the school's request, not mine!).  Helped in the classrooms with reading, drama, sewing and trips and swimming.  I hated it more with every passing hour.  Watching their little souls be crushed, the bullying, the behavior, the Above-All-Else-Conformity attitude.  The tests, the reward systems, the rife injustice everywhere, every day.  I HATED IT.  But I supported it for them.  Did the playdates, rolled with the punches, the cliques, the judgement of the 'It" Mums.  But gradually it became obvious they both hated it as much as I did. And so we made the jump.

Initially I thought my issues were with That School (and there were sooooooo many issues with That School) so my plan was to take them out, look around at other schools and wait until we could get in to one that was better suited to their needs.  Well, I quickly found there were none and that I, and they, would have the same issues where-ever we went.  So we stayed with Home Educating, gradually found our groove and have settled in to this alternative way of life we have found.

And I try hard to explain it to people.  No we are not on You Tube all day.  Yes we see other families, the kids play with other kids - lots and lots of other kids.  We do all the things you do, we just do them our way in our time.  And no we don't have to follow the curriculum.

People tell me all the time they are in awe of me.  That I am amazing.  Brave is another one. Strong.  I'm not particularly any of these things.  In fact I cringe when people say them, because it kind of makes me feel a bit unapproachable, a bit off limits.  As if I don't need or want anything else, and that's not the case at all. 

I am in a good place in my life.  I would say I am certainly the happiest I've been in a decade.  I frequently don't recognize the person I was.  Inside and out.  And I'm not the only one.

Today I had a funeral to go to.  A friend's dear old Dad, whom I have so many fond memories of.  And a friend to my Dad.  I remember the whole family turning out for his funeral, my Pa's, 15 years ago to support me. So of course I wouldn't have been anywhere else today but there.

And it was a difficult thing to go to, not only because it was the same chapel, the same songs, the same faces.  But because it meant revisiting more of the past - many people, old friends, some of whom I haven't seen for 10 or 15 years, almost all of whom were at my wedding once upon a time.  So firstly there was that to explain, that no I'm no longer married.  Well I say first but actually if was after a number of them had walked past me, not recognizing me now that I am literally half the person I was when they knew me.  It was a stark reminder to me of how far I have come and how different I am that people I spent such a portion of my life with didn't physically recognize me. 

And so once we'd got over all the "Oh my God's" and some very kind "you look amazing"s then we moved on to the other inevitable catching up, which of course led to everything else - the kids, the Home Schooling, oh and the couple of stitches in my face &  the dressing on my neck!  Gees what a day. So much explaining.....

And they all said all the same things that people always say, but I really am not very amazing at all. I'm only me. Just me ๐Ÿ˜Š 
I'm just the same as everyone else.
After all, aren't we all just playing the hand we were dealt? 
My life is no harder or easier than anyone else's.  It is what it is. 
We have days I would rather not repeat, and days that my heart just wants to burst from it's chest with love and happiness and pride. 
But isn't that just life?  All of our lives?  Now that we are adults.

I joined Twitter originally because of Autism and because of Home Education.  To help others - both the seek & gain diagnosis and support, and to dip their toes into the Home Ed pond if they were thinking of it.  I'm happy to say I have helped a number of people do both.  Just as a number of people helped us find out way.

And I'm so thankful for that.  I love that we are able to do this.  That we have found something that works for us.  That we have this great life where we are super close and we get to spend all this wonderful time together.

And I love the Twitter community. The support & encouragement.  And I love all my real life friends, and the Home Ed community.  I love people, I really do.

But if I could ask for anything it would be for people not to be in awe of us, please.  Especially not me ๐Ÿ˜Œ  Not to think we have it all together or that we don't need anyone.  Because we definitely don't, and we definitely do ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ 

We chose a different path to the one we expected, and we did choose it together the kids & I.  We are not asking for anyone's approval or permission, but we are also not here to judge or compare ourselves with anyone else.  We're just doing our thing, finding our way and sharing that journey for anyone who is interested in it ๐Ÿ’— 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Not Back to School - Bean, Pumpkin & Plum

Introducting another fabulous Home Ed family who are Not Back to School this Autumn

Tell us about you

This year we will officially have three children who are Not Back to School: Bean, 10, Pumpkin, 8, and Plum, 5. And then there is Pippin, 2, tagging along for the ride.

How long have you been Home Educating

None of the children have ever been to school or preschool, we decided that home education was for us before Bean was even two. That makes this officially our sixth year of Home Ed (7th if you include Reception too) For this reason, I have no idea what school year my children would be in now, I could work it out if I wanted to but it seems unnecessary.

What are your reasons for choosing to Home Educate?

We chose to Home Educate for many reasons. We discussed the education system, which I taught in for 11 years, and reflected on things we did and didn't want for our children. We discussed child development and cognitive development and educational approaches. We discussed our own educational journeys and reflected on our experiences and paths. We discussed the spiritual implications and social implications of attending school. We discussed the character and personality of our eldest. And as we brought together all these things we came undoubtedly to the conclusion that Home Education was the way forward for us as a family.

How would you describe your Home Education style?

We fell into Unschooling naturally as we continued to live and learn together as we moved from babyhood to toddlerhood to preschool age to school age. Fundamentally nothing changed for us in our day to day. The children are learning all the time and we, as the adults, support and facilitate and provide the things they need to be able to achieve the things they want to achieve.

The impossible question - can you tell us about a typical day?

Unschooling means that our days look different, each and everyone. One day we could be at the beach, playing in the water or collecting stones and shells, or playing in the arcade, or scooting along the promenade. The next day we could be at gymnastics class followed by a picnic and play in the park. Another day we could have friends over and do playdough and craft and board games or role play. And then we could spend a day going to the library and the local museum, into town to buy supplies. Another day we could spend reading and watching films and playing computer games or building domino runs and lego models or playing barbies. We have busy days and quiet days; frantic moments and calm moments; full on, all in, consuming, immersed passions, and then relaxed, laid back, contemplative hours. We don't really have a typical day, we do the things we love and we do them as and when we want to. We dance and play and watch and bake and explore and craft and sing and read and run and rest to our own unique schedule.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Let's Talk Inclusivity

Deviating again this morning, somewhat, from my usual subjects - but I have seen two things on Twitter in the last 24 hours which I felt the need to address.

Firstly, someone I follow yesterday happened to Tweet that there was an open Baptism at the church he attends, and some of the attendees were sniggering and making fun of members of the congregation who were enjoying the hymns and worship.

Secondly, a lovely couple that I follow and admire SO much were mocked this morning for being openly affectionate with each other because they are a same sex couple.

Both of these things are not ok.

I am not a religious person, that's a whole other post for another time, so why do I feel outraged at the first incident?  Because it is disrespectful and there is no need for it.  There is no value to it.  It is not a case of a contrary opinion or belief voicing opinion, it is just nasty and unnecessary.

Secondly, I am not a lesbian.  Does that mean I should care or consider LGBT rights any differently or less than my own?  A world of no.  Again, there is no need for this incident to have taken place.  It is the same - nasty, disrespectful and unnecessary.

So this draws me back to my wonderful kids and another of the plethora of reasons why I Home Educate them.  I am often asked if I am shielding them from the world, being over-protective.  Far from it.  My kids see the world in all it's glory and all it's horror.  We talk about terrorism, racism, the atomic bomb.  We talk about the clouds, rainbows, birds, beauty and what we like about other people.

And two incidents stick out in my mind this morning.  

Firstly, with regards to religion.  We do not attend church.  The children go to a fortnightly social club at a church local to us, where they do learn Bible stories and so forth, and they go voluntarily because they enjoy it.  My son has a steadfast, unshakeable, absolute faith in God.  My daughter is more questioning and wants to know the answers to the universe - to learn about all different religions and cultures and science.  We do both, because both approaches are fine by me.  Because what I want is to raise respectful, inquisitive, inclusive, accepting children who will become the same as adults.  

There is often a lady that preaches alone in our town.  She stands and sings and talks about God and forgiveness and love.  She stands alone.  And we are frequently shocked at how openly people mock and abuse her for doing so.  But week after week she returns.  And my children always say hello to her.  My daughter tells her she is brave and lovely for singing.  And they respect the fact that she is sharing her views.  My son is upset when he sees people abusing her.  And I am thankful for that. That he has a fire in his soul and a passion against injustice. 

Secondly, with regards to diversity.  When my daughter was in school, she came home one afternoon, aged 6 and pointed her second finger at me.  "Is this swearing Mum?" she asked.   I presumed what had happened was that someone had flipped her the bird, and she was trying to communicate this to me.  So we sat and had a chat about what had happened.

Apparently, a girl in her class (who I knew all-too-well by then!) had been copying her spellings.  This time my daughter refused to let her.  Her response, at SIX YEARS OLD, was to flip my daughter the bird and call her "gay".

For a moment I had no words - the anger just surged inside me.

I was angry about the swearing, but so much more I was angry about the use of the word "Gay" as an insult.  So firstly, I rang the school - and went bat sh*t crazy!  A six year old child, using the word gay as an insult??  This needed to be recorded, and dealt with asap I said.  There will be children in that class who are gay, who already know they are gay, and will have heard that prejudice from a child so young.  The teacher defended the child, surely she didn't know or understand what she was saying.  That's as may be, but she understood that from somewhere she has learnt that it is an insult, a slur, to call someone gay.  And that's not ok.  And she needs to be told that's not ok.

Then I sat and talked with my daughter.  She did not understand what the word gay meant - because I had never felt the need to address it.  So I explained that it meant you love people of the same sex as you, boys and boys, girls and girls. 

"Oh" she shrugged. "Like Uncle H and Uncle A and Auntie E and Auntie J and......." and proceeded to reel of a list of gay and lesbian friends of mine, of ours. 

Yes hun.  Exactly that.

"I don't get it Mum" she said "why's that an insult?"

That's the point baby, it's not. But from ignorance some people think it is.  Simply because there are less gay people than straight people, therefore some people think because it is different to them it is in some way less.

"That's stupid" she said.

Yes baby, it is.  And you are six.  And you already knew this.  And you already accepted all people in love, as they have been presented to you.

And had I taught her this?

Not specifically.  We had never sat down with "I have two Daddys" books or "Mum & Mummy & Me"  but just because our lives reflect inclusivity.  And naively I was shocked that some other people's don't - still. 

So how exactly, I wonder, am I shielding her from the world?   From bigotry, racism, bullying, hate - yes I am happy to shield her from those things, for as long as I am able to do so.  And to teach her to be steadfast in her beliefs, in her acceptance and in her love.  So that she is ready to stand against them as she encounters them. And she is, and she does, frequently!

So we continue to go in to the world, open hearted and accepting.  Do people hurt us?  Yes.  The world can be a sh*tty place, there's no denying that.  There's plenty of wolves at the door who are waiting to take advantage of kindness.  But should we let it change us?  Stop being kind?  Withold our acceptance? 

No. Because Mummy teaches them also to be strong.  That we will walk the same streets regardless of whether we are looking at the gutter or up at the sun.  So best to hold our heads high, keep our gaze straight and smile.  And be kind.  I really don't get what's so difficult about that?