Monday, 29 April 2013

Things I should know.

There are lots of them, obviously.  I'm a 36 year old university educated, professionally qualified mother of four, but I don't, for example, really know what the difference is between a King Edward and a Maris Piper and which one I want when I need to impress with my roasties.

Nor, for instance, do I actually know what colour eye shadow suits me.  Or how you choose an eyeshadow in the first place.

Or what half my friends actually do for their jobs.  I mean I know what the job title is, and I know who they work for,  but what is a deal architect, or a blue sky thinker anyway?  And yes, I do really know people who have that printed on their business cards.

Or, of more immediate concern, what is the etiquette when someone gives you a present you (or in this case your six-year-old) already has?  She, obviously, wants to come clean, complain loudly, and get them to send her something else.

I want to pretend it never happened, get her to write a lovely thank you card, not mentioning the duplication at all, and put the offending item in the "present drawer".

Which of us is right? 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The worst thing about parenting

It's only taken me six years.

But I've finally worked out what it is that I really struggle with in this parenting lark.

It's the noise. The constant, wearing, soul-draining, sensory over-loading noise.

My children don't do quiet. When they're happy, they're loud. When they're sad, they're loud. Angry? Loud. Excited? Loud. "Playing quietly"? Yup. Loud.

I'm sure that once they're all at school or, unimaginably far off, have left for good, the house will seem unbearable for the quiet: eerily empty, without the screaming, shouting, giggling, moaning, idly conversing to the person next to them as though in a high wind.

But for now, there's not much I wouldn't give for half an hour of peace.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The car, the cinema and the rainbow cake

Or the utterly flabbergasting power of social media.

And the birthday was saved!

I didn't think it would work, honestly I didn't.  I mean actually who reads this blog? Who tweets? Who's interested in what I put on my personal (I told them I blog! eek!) facebook page?

Do Citroen really care if L's birthday is ruined because their supply chain is rubbish?

Turns out they do.

On Wednesday afternoon I posted this (click the link if you have no idea what I'm talking about).   I also stuck it on my and B's and Citroen's facebook pages.  I also asked anyone who read it to tweet it.

B and I have, in total, we reckon, about 500 separate friends on facebook.  According to blogger about 350 people read the post (which I think means actually clicked on it).  I don't understand twitter, but I think about ten people tweeted it.

Citroen are a pretty big company.  They must spend millions on marketing.  As a result they must have a global reach to futher millions of people. They're not going to care about fewer than 1000 of my friends and relations, are they?

My phone rang at 8.45 on Thursday morning.  By Friday afternoon (took them time to find one big enough) we had this.

A Hyundai Hee-Owge (that may not actually be what it's called). All expenses (well not the petrol, obviously) paid.

By this morning the part was at the garage, and by mid-afternoon today, we had this, shiny and clean, riding high on its lovely new rear suspension:

Even better, on Sunday lunchtime, L had this:

And by Sunday afternoon she had a bucket of popcorn as big as her head on her lap, and a pair of 3D glasses attached to her nose.

I don't get it. I really don't.  What's a thousand people to the millions Citroen reach through advertising?  What was it about us that got us bumped up the queue (because we're far from being alone with this problem)?  Was it the human interest of poor little L, with her wobbly bottom lip and her tear-streaked face, missing her birthday treat?  Was it the blog? Was it the tweets? Was it the fact that though we were clearly fed up with the situation we didn't shout or swear?  Was it actually not us at all, but the garage (Dalgleish in Coldstream, who were also hassling on our behalf) that applied the vital pressure in our favour?

I don't know.  I probably never will.  I don't understand it, but I'm very grateful for whatever it was.

So thank you.  You, and the garage,and Citroen.

And apologies to the several hundred other Citroen owners who have, according to Citroen's facebook page, this forum and others, been waiting, mostly a lot longer than we have, and continue to wait.

Because while Citroen were great to us (why?)  they're still being rubbish.  They still haven't got the parts for other people, their supply chain is still non-existent (some people are being told it may be 8-10 weeks for the part) and they still won't admit that there's actually a fault with the thing in the first place.  So, again, please tweet this post, if you tweet. 

Because Citroen deserve to be praised for the way they treated us, but we're not alone, and there are other people, and probably other six year olds, who deserve to be treated as we were.  

If it worked for us, you never know...

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

In which I refuse to let Citroen ruin L's birthday.

Our car died on Easter Saturday.

It's not a big death, as deaths go.  The rear suspension's gone.  It's undrivable as is, but it's only going to take two hours (and the obligatory several hundred pounds, obviously) to fix.

Once they've got the part.

On Easter Saturday we were supposed to be going to Edinburgh to see some friends.  They came here.  I paid over £100 for the car to be taken to the garage.  We were promised it back early the next week.

We changed our Easter plans.

We were supposed to be going South to see my parents on the Thursday. No car.  We hired one.

The part was supposed to be in last Sunday.  It's not.  B cancelled the concert and reunion he was supposed to be going to on Monday.

The part was supposed to be in yesterday.  It's not.  I walked four children through a rainstorm to nursery (a mile away, which is a long way with little legs).

Today it's still not here.  I won't go to my exercise class tonight, or, almost certainly, my book group tomorrow.

Citroen are, as of this morning, saying that there is a supply chain problem.  Apparently there are cars all over the UK waiting for this part.  We are one of many.  They can't give us a date.

Nor will they give us a hire car.  Or a courtesy car (and the garage only has three which are all already out).

We are coping. It's fine.  We're in the middle of town. We can walk most places and change plans when we can't.

Only who's going to change L's birthday?

She's six on Sunday.  She is beyond excited.  Literally counting down the days.   We've chosen the (rainbow coloured) cake, and the big baking is scheduled for Saturday.  After much deliberation there's one thing she wants to do:  go to the cinema with her family and one of her best friends.  Nemo in 3D.  Twelve miles away.

Only we can't get there with no car.   There are no hire cars big enough available at the local hire car company.  The bus times don't work.  We can't get a taxi because what would we do with the car seats in the cinema?  There are too many of us (six of us plus her friend) to get a lift with anyone.

She hasn't worked it out yet, but if the car isn't fixed we're going to have to cancel.

And are Citroen going to explain that to her?

I've been fine about having no car for over two weeks now.  I've been  fine about shopping for six people in dribs and drabs.  I've been fine with non-explanations and non-contact.  I've been fine about cancelling my plans and B's.

But I am utterly not fine about cancelling a 6 year old's birthday.

I don't tweet, but if anyone who reads this does and wants to retweet it to (is that what you do?) @citroenUK just to see if we can sort something, anything, out, please feel free...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The tadpole crisis

I am responsible for multiple little lives.

Here they are:

Aren't they lovely?


I guess you're not seeing the appeal of having an old ice cream tub filled with manky water sitting on the side in your kitchen for weeks.

Nor am I to be honest, but it's not that that's stressing me out.

It's the responsibility.

What if they die?

To be honest I'm not sure I could tell a dead tadpole from a live one, most of the time, but you can bet the children can, and will, and then they'll look at me:

Mummy, why did you let them die?

The responsibility is terrifying:

Do you change the water?
Should I fish them out with a sieve first?
How do I clean the sieve after?
Can I use tap water?
And if I can't do I really want to risk my life trying to get some tadpole friendly water out of the river?
Do I feed them?
Are there seriously people (thanks Internet, no really) who will carefully boil lettuce to feed it to tadpoles?
Am I really supposed to do that?
And what about the ones that don't hatch?

Then there are the moral implications:

Should I have them in the first place?  They're wild animals. Ish. They came, unhatched (do tadpoles hatch?) from my Mum's pond, carefully transported north in a jam jar. Ripped from the only home they knew (I may be anthropomorphising them too much.).

And what do I do with them in the end? I'm not just responsible for them while they're under my roof.  I took them, I raised them, I've got to look after them.   But where?  I can hardly stick a bunch of tiny frogs in the Tweed; I don't imagine they'd enjoy the trip to the North Sea.  But the nearest pond I know of is several miles away and I'm not sure they'll be so amenable to the jam jar method of transportation when they've got legs.

But if I put them in the wrong place they'll die. And I'll feel guilty forever (still haven't forgiven myself for releasing the carefully-nurtured butterflies into a hailstorm...). And what if they're the sort of amphibians that return to where they were spawned? How're they going to get from here to Essex? Or is that toads?

Like I said. The responsibility is stressing me out.

Just think what I'd be like with a dog...