Instagram Phyl's Blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Turmeric teeth


Charlotte had the bottom bands on her braces changed ten days ago. Then the top ones snapped so she had them replaced yesterday with the same colour as the original. I am beginning to suspect there is too much turmeric in our family diet! (The dental assistant didn't even believe the bottom started out sky blue - I wonder why!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Glow - I hate you!



If you have a child at school in Scotland, the word 'glow' probably no longer leaves you with the warm and cosy feeling it is meant to evoke... (or is my family its only victim?)

They've been trying to roll it out across East Ren at least since Lots was still in primary, if not longer. How difficult can it be to write an online system that kids can use to access their school and school work? Countless times we've been asked to access it, usually with minimal, if any, instructions on where to find the page pertaining to a specific project, homework, class or whatever. I'm not particularly computer-illiterate - I have worked on one daily since 1991 and can cope with writing small Unix scripts and similar but 'glow' fills me with fear and loathing and leaves me frustrated to the point of wanting to go back to papyrus scrolls.

The first issue is that every time we attempt to log on the child's password has been changed. Yes, they may have been given something simple to remember but they are using it at 5 or 6 years old so when you ask their password, you get told last week's or last month's or their username, or the password they thought about using but didn't, or the password the kid sitting next to them used. So problem number one is invariably trying for a whole evening to log on, unsuccessfully trying different combinations of surnames, pet's names, minecraft handles and similar, and believe me, when you have four school-age kids, you don't have time to devote a whole evening to hacking into the system for just one of them. Around midnight you write your first letter of the week to the teacher (knowing that by Friday, you'll be back on first name terms).

By day 2 you are one day behind on the homework (that you only had four days to do in the first place) so are already stressed. You finally get in, invariably using one of the combinations of username and password that didn't work the previous evening but now mysteriously does, but you have no idea where to go... (and the interface has always changed since your previous successful break-in). The kid takes the mouse and manoeuvres you through three screens till you finally see, not without some relief, the class teacher's name. You click on it, knowing you are finally just one screen away from finally discovering what this week's homework assignment is and as you click it laughs in your face and flashes the message 'You do not have the permissions to view this page!' You find yourself shouting 'Fuck off glow!!!' and shaking your fist at the laptop much to the surprise of junior, who wonders why 'glow' always provokes such anger in his parents.You reach for the pen to write the teacher your second penpal letter of the week, because you really have nothing better to do with your evenings with a job and five kids than play hide and seek with 'glow' every evening.

This week Léon announced his teacher has decided to save paper (or was it the planet?) by putting all homework from now on on 'glow'. FFS, just pass me a gun now...

At high school (after the initial period of three months having them reset Charlotte's password on a daily basis) 'glow' does work, though still takes longer than just opening a text book and actually doing an exercise, but at primary, many of the children just aren't clued up enough to use such a buggy system. I really don't see how they can consider using it as a default system if children cannot get it to work without hours of parental intervention. I'm so fed up with it that I am losing the will to live. Tonight we 'do not have permissions'. I am not writing another letter. I have told Léon to tell them he can't see his homework and I refuse to devote any more time to it. If we don't get in by Thursday I will write a single letter saying ' Léon cannot access his homework so we did not do it'. That will be a first as none of my kids has missed a homework assignment in the 12 years they have all been at school. Enough is enough!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Big family?

The last time I remember getting that look - the one of mixed pity and admiration - was back in 2010 in London. I got on the tube with all five of my kids (then aged 6 months, 2, 4, 10 and 13) and I actually noticed some people counting us on and off again!

Today I was alone in Silverburn with four of my kids and my two Danish nieces Ursula and Elisabeth - so I had a 14, 9, 7, 6, 4 and a one year old in a buggy. A number of people looked at me as if I was barking mad and of course given five of the six children were girls, I think Léon got even more looks of pity than I did! :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Through a child's eyes



We had one of those conversations this morning...

Anna: Do French people celebrate Xmas on the 24th of December like Danes?
Me: Yes, Anna.
Anna: Papa was French, wasn't he?
Me Yes, Anna.
Anna: So do you always marry foreign men so you get your presents a day earlier than if you'd married a Scottish one?

The things you prioritize in life aren't quite the same at six...

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

You can always rely on the kids


School does it at least once a year. Sometimes I think they are just being a bit nosy and condescending but it's always dressed-up as an 'educational exercise', and I'm generally too busy with real life to argue. 

It started last week. Léon was tasked with writing down everything he ate on a day of his choice that week. I suggested Thursday as I knew I had a load of vegetables I needed to use up and had time to cook something nice that day. He agreed, because he enjoys his food, and because he's a sweet (and easily-led child ;-) ). So we had a fairly bland cereal for breakfast, a few pieces of fruit mid-morning, some nice wholemeal bread and cheese with more fruit for lunch, building up to a dinner to be proud of: I made some boiled basmati, I made spicy potatoes in cumin seeds, ground coriander and garam masala, we had cucumber raita, I fried a tiny bit of chicken in onion, cumin, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet chilis, slicing in mushrooms, patty pan squash, aubergine and tomatoes. I added in some baby potatoes. I felt well-smug. We often eat that kind of dinner but we also occasionally have burgers and chips or similar so it was definitely what I considered acceptable for class discussion... I left it at that.

Yesterday was open day for this term. I went in and the kids were making their meals out of felt and wool and gluing them onto plates they had designed themselves. Léon was carefully cutting out patty pan slices while the three other kids at his table cut out pizzas. Léon whispered to me that he'd even received a 'personal point' for having eaten the most unusual vegetable of everyone in the class! Tee hee. I seem to have retained my 'weirdo' status once again...

So I thought I had got away with it.

Presumably, though, they decided that since the exercise was such a hit in the upper school, the little ones would get to do it too. Anna chose today. Anna chose today because she was on the plan to cook today and wanted to be fully in control. It hadn't been the best start as she'd had coco pops and dunkers this morning, followed by a chorizo sandwich and crisps, albeit with a few grapes at  lunch time. She came in and worsened things with powdered chicken noodle soup - sigh! (At least today wasn't the day we let her take back the lemonade bottle to the corner shop and splash out the 30p on gummi sugar-snakes.) So, around 5, I turned to her and asked the fateful question: 'So, what do you fancy cooking tonight? Remember you have to write it up on your form, then talk about it in class?' Anna doesn't have a huge repertoire. She can do fish, some salads, pastas and pie with broccoli, but I was sure it'd be fine, she is only six after all... 'I think I'll make fried eggs and chips!' she replied, very pleased with herself! Stunned silence, while I thought to myself: Seriously? We have only had that about four times in your entire life! Why, tonight, you wee besom, why?

But, you know Anna: firstly, there would be no budging from that momentous decision, and secondly there would be no lying about it on the form either, because if I'd put down vegetable soup, little Miss Teacher's Pet would simply have announced 'We had egg and chips but mummy said to write down soup'.

So from tomorrow not only will I be waiting on the call from social services asking if I've never heard of the five-a-day policy, I'll also be skulking around for fear of Anna's teacher bumping into Léon's in the staffroom, comparing notes and concluding our family, which already doesn't quite fit in the boring East Renfrewshire bog-standard 2 kids and designer dog mould, is even odder than previously assumed!

Children: a part of yourself, you have very little control over!