Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Have You Thought Of Any Names Yet?

"Have you thought of any names yet?"
You'll find when you're pregnant that this is a question you'll be repeatedly asked. You'll expect it. You may even excitedly anticipate it. Or if you're completely insane you'll raise the subject yourself! Don't. Don't mention names you like, names that mean something to you, or names you've read in a book. Pretend that names don't even exist. Say Nothing. Do anything you can to avoid people asking you this question. 
Many people presume that parents keep their baby names secret to avoid people copying. 
That's really not the reason. 
They keep them secret because they, like I, know how awful people can be. And once you've seen that look of disgust on someone's face as you sweetly tell them the name you and your partner have finally agreed on, you'll be sobbing in to your big book of baby names and wondering why children need names in the first place! Can't they just be given a number? 
There's a collection of responses which will all more or less have the same effect.
The stone faced smile response, for example. This is a more discreet reaction where the person doesn't quite know what to do with their face. They're in between either throwing up with repulsion at the name you've just told them, or they're about to laugh. They manage to reign in their rudeness and muster up a stony smile. This will sometimes be paired with an "ohhh" response, or a redirection in the form of names they "do like." But either way, you're now paranoid as fuck and having second thoughts about the name you once adored. 
Some people have less tact and will simply state with no qualms whatsoever
"I don't like that!
Oh no!
It's awful! 
Don't call them that!
If you weren't so dumbfounded by the rudeness you may state that it's a good job it's YOUR child and not THEIRS! But of course you will be dumbfounded and the words will not come. 
I'm unsure what the general thought process is with these types of gobshites but I'm going to hazard a guess that they don't comment rudely on adults names when they're introduced to them.
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Bernard"
"BERNARD!!! What a revolting name! I had an uncle Bernard. He was a total nobhead! All Bernard's are nobheads!" 
It just doesn't happen. 
When enquiring about people's name choices, the general rule of thumb should be, If you can't poker face through the answer then don't ask the question. It's a simple rule.
I'd forgotten the valuable 'name' lesson from my first pregnancy but have since had the pleasure of revising it this time around. I've experienced both stony faced, and gobshite responses. As I answered the question for a third time and was greeted by "I'm not sure about that. You could always call it (this) instead" it all came flooding back to me. 
How could I have forgotten the worlds incessant need to push their baby name opinions on to you whilst simultaneously sending your already hormonal and irrational being in to a sense of despair! 
So no. I'm not keeping my choice of names secret from now on because I'm afraid someone will copy. I'm 30 something (a lady never tells), not 5! 
I'm keeping it secret because I'll sucker punch the next person that gives my future baby's name the asshole treatment!! 

If you like a good rant on the subject of names you can read about another time I lost my shit 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Take My Kid Out Of Your Box

I have a real issue with 'quizzes' that appear on my Facebook newsfeed that turn a serious issue in to a joke or game. A couple of years ago the "How Bipolar are you?"
And "How OCD are you?" quizzes came around and I remember putting a status on Facebook stating that if people were genuinely concerned they had Bipolar or OCD it would be more beneficial to visit a GP and get a mental health referral rather than take a quiz on Facebook. The point being, these are serious conditions that people live with every day and it's damn right disrespectful to turn the symptoms of a disorder in to measurable traits that you may or may not possess just for a bit of social media attention
"Oohhh! I'm 95% OCD because I like to clean my house!!" Bullshit.
So think how overjoyed I was when I browsed through my newsfeed and flicked past a quiz entitled "Can YOU pass a six year olds SATS test?"
It was bound to occur. The media has been bombarded this week with the "Let our kids be kids" campaign, and rightly so! 
I didn't take the test. And at first I wasn't too disgruntled about it. After all, maybe it would be educational for adults to see just what this government is expecting of our children. 
It was the comments section that grinded my gears. It's always the comments section! 
There was the usual eye roll provoking comments "oooh I passed I passed!" 
Yes, you passed. You're 38. Well done. 
But the majority of comments were actually offensive, hurtful, and completely missing the point.
Apparently "ALL kids age six should ACE this test, otherwise their parents need to work harder at teaching them"
"Just because parents are thicker than their kids, doesn't mean they should underestimate them."
There were many more comments along the same lines, but these two really struck a chord with me. 
Why are the parents to blame all of a sudden for this governments constant changing of goal posts in terms of our children's education? Why is there an assumption that ALL children should be on the same academic level, ignoring any individual differences and capabilities? Why is there an inference that the children who will not "ACE" this test are offspring to "thick" parents who don't put any effort in to teaching their children?

It won't be long before MY child has to take this test. Maybe he will ace it. Maybe he will get every single question wrong.  But do you know what? I really don't care. He will be SIX! SIX YEARS OLD. There are countries in Europe where he would not even have started school yet. Of course I teach him and assist him with his school work, but I spend more time trying to teach him how not to be a dick. A lesson that many people who commented on this quiz thread clearly missed in life. 
A child's intelligence can not be observed simply through a test. To state that is to deny the fact that intelligence exists in many forms, not all of which can be measured with pen and paper. 
Yes, we could push our darling children harder. But perhaps when weighing up the effects of that we choose to value our children's mental health over their academic capabilities when pushed to the absolute brink. What good will it be when our children can't make their way through university or hold down a job because they've been pushed and pressurised so much that they have seriously deteriorating mental health issues.
What happens when the expected achievement goal of our children is raised so high that they are immediately set up to fail and our special educational needs support is flooded with children who don't really have educational needs, but are instead unable to achieve a result that is unachievable? 
My son is 4 and in reception. He is classed as "delayed" because he is not reaching specific targets for his class. Does this mean I'm a bad mother? That I don't spend time with him helping him to learn? 
Was I a bad mother yesterday when instead of sitting and going over his letters and sounds I allowed him to have fun in the garden and soak up the sun? Was I a bad mother when I showed him how to weed the garden instead of showing him how to do adding and subtracting? Was I a bad mother when he asked me if the worm he had found was a boy or a girl and I told him that earthworms were both boys and girls at the same time? Because to me THIS is learning. 
Remove the box that you are so readily eager to place my child in and the rest of the children in this country.
Wake up and realise that they need their childhood, not tests so that they can be a statistic on a bar chart. 
For the record. I have a degree in psychology and work for one of the biggest mental health charities in Europe. My sons Father has a Masters Degree, makes films and lectures at a local university. So whilst your busy removing the boxes from our children you can also remove that ugly stereotype you've got going on about 'thick parents' not educating their kids.