Category Archives: Children

Pretty Tough Tea Parties

 

I love organising parties. In fact I’m pretty sure this is my real calling!

This is probably because I like to go overboard!

It is like performing an unrestricted version of my planning job only with a smaller budget; in most cases!

Year 3 2005

For Inny’s 3rd birthday we hired a small church hall and a clown.The whole nursery attended that’s 36! and parents.  The twins of the ‘Aunty Mafia’, we like to call them, (McDad’s three sisters! A Louis Vuitton wielding set of identical twins and another who is pretty much identical to the other two) had a face painting table and there were 3 long games of pass the parcel. My brother M was in charge of Piñata and drove the kids crazy with his on stage version of ‘there was an old woman who swallowed a fly’ as well as his impromptu fall on his backside. The kids found it very funny while he held back an agonising howl of pain!

I caught this on video and wish I route it out for your enjoyment unfortunately I can’t find it.

Year 5 2007

For the 5th birthday we threw a pirate, monsters and princess themed party and held it at a local hall. My brothers were dressed as Zorro, a ghoul, and Spiderman. La & her lovely boyfriend came as pirates and I was a witch (of course).

One little boy was so enthralled by the 6”3’ Spiderman that he almost threw up with excitement.

We had a bouncy castle and an entertainer called Ziggy.

He brought with him bubble and snow machines and a well of energy that quite frankly was exhausting!! There were all sorts of party games a conga line and a through embarrassment of myself and McDad (particularly the ‘hold hands; go on give her a kiss’ moments)

Year 7 2009

For her 7th birthday we stayed at home and invited just 15 kids. I booked an animal show. By now word had got around school that Inny’s parties were pretty cool so 22 or so kids turned up and all but 3 parents decided to stay for the party!!

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2 owls, 1 snake, 2 skunks, 1 pygmy hedgehog, a tarantula, a giant millipede, a lizard kept the whole lot entertained for over 2 hours!

 

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Year 8 2010

I opted for something small and girly. A tea party! How hard could that be? After much negotiation with the celebrant we settle on inviting 8 little ladies (and I made it very clear that tag along siblings/parents were not invited!). McDad was engaged as the butler and SuperGran and Aunty K were asked to come along for momma-moral support.

I started off by buying a length of fabric from Ikea to cover the tables and then I trawled eBay for the cake stands and the unique party ‘bags’.  I found little ceramic cup cake shaped sugar bowls/trinket boxes from Staffordshire Collectibles for £2.40 and bought 10 to fill with Haribo and trinkets.  I popped into Oxfam’s Dalston branch and bought lots of lovely little tea cups and saucers for the hot chocolate and marsh mellows (instead of tea). I simply love that Oxfam it is so well organised and has a huge range; there’s always a treasure to be found in there.

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Inny and I had a practice run at making cup cakes the weekend before and they were lovely but come the weekend of the party I was just too busy to make them. I took a trip to our local Tesco and found they had a lovely selection of cupcakes at only £2 for 4!!!!!

The dress code was fascinators, tea dresses and gloves and everyone made a lovely effort to dress the part!

The butler turned up an hour late and the young ladies called for him to be sacked ‘or at the very least not be paid!’ The game of Twister descended in to chaos and there was an unpleasant punching incident between two young ladies.

But over all the four hour party was a great success with lots of laughter and fun. It was so super worth it to see my little miss having so much fun with her friends!

Year 9 2011

For the 9th birthday we headed to Finsbury parks somewhat grotty bowling alley (not that the kids noticed). My good friend Chez of ‘A Strawberry Cupcake’ made the most amazing cake. The girls thoroughly thrashed the adults and I vowed never to play against them again!

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Year 10 2012

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This was a challenge! Trooping six of them off to the movies and then having them stay over for the first big sleepover. So far it’s only ever been one or possibly two at a time for a sleepover so I planned to just sprinkle some food around the living room throw down some soft stuff and lock them in there until morning.

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Year 11 2013

We went bowling again this year but at the fabulous all Star Lanes in the Westfield Stratford shopping mall, London. 10 kids 5 adults.

The first challenge was getting them all dropped off at my house at a good time. The Lane was booked for 11am so it was a 9.30am start. Fortunately all the kids were at my place by 9.45 including Nut and his two boys from far across London. I checked the train services the night before to find that our direct 10 minute journey train was suspended for the weekend, so we made our way via a 40 minute bus ride. The kids occupied themselves chatting and there was a lovely rendition of an unintelligible song form Nuts gorgeous 3 year old.

Once there we swiftly changed into our bowling shoes and moved to our two booked lanes. True to form I lost miserably but remained the hero when I announced that I had in fact booked them in for a meal with dessert too. The All Star Lanes staff were super cheerful and helpful and we all had a really good time.

We returned home to tuck into a lovely cake once again made by ‘A Strawberry Cupcake’ by which time 3pm had passed and parents who had turned up to collect had to either stand around waiting for their child to peel themselves away.

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2014 the last year of the tweens!

The last tween birthday. The possibilities are endless.

Wish me luck?

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oxfamdalston.wordpress.com

http://www.astrawberrycupcake.com

McDad – A Tweet – A Decision

I have a voice and I'll use it!

I have a voice and I’ll use it!

This morning I did something I rarely do, as the interaction with McDad ran across my mind and I remembered that part of the vitriol he spat at me was that people read my twitter feed and laugh at me, so curious, I checked his twitter feed and then that of his girlfriends.

Perhaps I’m a little paranoid and a little masochistic. Maybe.

What I definitely am is curious about human nature.

Now as I have never met this woman and know the nature of my ex well enough to know how he manipulates the truth, controls, lies and cheats I tend to defend this woman when speaking with his family about the situation. After all it seems he now targets single mothers and swiftly moves in on them, into the comfort of their established home and routine. Straight from my home to hers. I often say things like ‘well we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors’ ‘she is only told what he wants her to know’ ‘ she feels she has to support her man’ and other such little gems. I am genuinely afraid for her emotionally and physically. But I’m often told to not make excuses for her, that she should not incite him and ‘should be his water to his fire’. I was not sure that she does do that …………

Well I found this little gem on her time line.

Something to say Hun?

Something to say Hun?

As this is quite transparently aimed at me given the date and the content I find this quite interesting and to be honest somewhat annoying.

At no point has she felt the need to comment or condemn domestic violence. She has not felt the need to comment on a violent of aggressive action that took place in a school hall full of children, or an outstanding arrest warrant and the criminal history of violence of my daughters father.

She, a mother herself, has not felt the need to comment on men who do not contribute to the upkeep of their children or that the person she has lived with on and off for over eight years has never had his child over night in their home. Or men who do not in fact see their children on a regular basis or contribute to their physical needs. She did not feel the need to say anything when McDad disappeared for 3 months making no contact with his daughter at all, missing her birthday and Christmas.

But she does feel it’s okay the say that a mother who keeps a child away from its father should be locked up.

I take it for the simplistic, reactionary and one dimensional response to the limited information that she was given by a dishonest controlling man.

When I saw this tweet I had to do some self-examination and question my decision. I’m an open minded, growing person and know that one has to regularly examine one’s own motives when decision making to ensure the right choices are made.

Firstly. What was my decision?

Cease all interaction between myself and my children with my violent and abusive ex-partner and father of my youngest child for the foreseeable future.

Was this the right decision?

I strongly believe that it is the duty of a parent to protect a child from violence, aggression and abuse. Even if that is from the other biological parent.

vinthehome

Unicefs 2006 report ‘Behind Closed Doors; the impact of domestic violence on children’ estimates that 275 million children worldwide are exposed to domestic violence with a range of between 24000 to 963000 exposed in the UK

“There is significant risk of ever-increasing harm to
the child’s physical, emotional and social development.

Infants and small children who are exposed to violence in the home
experience so much added emotional stress that it can harm the
development of their brains and impair cognitive and sensory growth.
Behaviour changes can include excessive irritability, sleep problems,
emotional distress, fear of being alone, immature behaviour, and problems
with toilet training and language development.
As they grow, children who are exposed to violence may continue to show
signs of problems. Primary-school-age children may have more trouble with
school work, and show poor concentration and focus. They tend not to do
as well in school. In one study, forty per cent had lower reading abilities
than children from non-violent homes.
Personality and behavioural problems among children exposed to violence
in the home can take the forms of psychosomatic illnesses, depression,
suicidal tendencies, and bed-wetting. Later in life, these children are at
greater risk for substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy and criminal behaviour
than those raised in homes without violence”

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My daughter had nightmares and anxiety issues for 10 months after we moved away from the house in which we lived with McDad. Many nights I raced along the hallway to respond to her screams in the night. She is emotionally delicate, cannot bear to see people suffering or take part in any contact sport. She gets distressed at raised voices, cries at foul language and suffers from a nervous stomach condition that comes to the fore when she’s emotionally distressed.

My daughter was traumatized by his behaviour in the school hall in front of her and her friends. She says she was frightened and does not want to see him for a while. She spent the following 48 hours close to a toilet.

I believe she is what is known as Gillick Competent and is unlikely to be forced to see him if she doesn’t want to.

I have an obligation to protect her and teach her that it is not acceptable to be treated with aggression and violence. I do not want her to think that this is normal behaviour or part of a normal healthy relationship. I do not want her to seek out partners like him in her adult relationships. In order to do that I must keep her away from it.

The absolute irony of all of this is that when McDad and I were together he would ask me why I allowed my older daughter to see her father when her father often failed to turn up at the appointed time or didn’t show up at all and did not contribute to her up keep. In his opinion my older daughter, L, should not put through the constant disappointment by now seeing her father at all.

L’s father isn’t violent, never uses obscenities and pretty much left us to get on with things. No control issues or undiagnosed/untreated mental health issues. He was just selfish and self-centered and lazy. He was focused on becoming famous. He’s a bit of a cock; yes he is, but he’s not dangerous unpredictable and extremely violent.

So do I think I have made the right decision?

Unfortunately I went against all advise in 2005 when the police and courts advised me to get a full injunction against McDad and do everything legally possible to make sure he came no where near us in the future.
I thought I was doing what was best for her because she needed to have a relationship with her father. The relationship proved to be inconsistent and has turned out to be traumatic. To sustain the relationship I have been exposed to his abuse and aggression over and over again.

Now I’m following my daughter’s wishes and giving her the space from the anguish and fear she feels by taking her request seriously.

I sincerely believe that McDad is dangerous and a negative influence on all those around him. I don’t want him to have the opportunity to show any further examples to my daughter of what it looks and feels like when a man controls, abuses and hurts their partners, women or people in general.
In her distant subconscious there is a picture of her father strangling her mother and her mother fighting for her life. In her very present memory is the picture of her father leaning over aggressively verbally abusing and threatening her mother in her place of safety in front of her friends. Nothing else needs to be added to those memories to further scar her childhood.

McDad needs to seek professional help to deal with his issues. Or in the words of his 10 year old daughter ‘he needs to sort himself out because he was being so horrible and nasty mummy’. In the years since we’ve parted his ability to control his aggression seems to have diminished, he is unable to hold down a job and his interpersonal relationships with family have deteriorated beyond recognition.

The police have advised me to cease all interaction with him and to call them if he shows up at school or at our home. They have clearly warned me that this man is a ‘ticking time bomb’ and a ‘very violent and aggressive criminal’ who is currently wanted for questioning by the police.

So the blanket statement ‘children as pawns’ does not apply here.

In fact the tweet shows how simplistic people can be, how little McDad’s girlfriend actually knows about what’s going on and how little she actually knows about me. It’s also quite a cowardly; surely if you feel so strongly you’d reach out and have a conversation like an adult instead of taking back handed potshots.

I wholeheartedly believe that children should not be used as pawns to get back at the other parent. I also believe that providing for, nuturing and being present for a child is not optional and have been consistent in doing so every single day of her life but most importantly I believe in giving my daughter the safest and most loving upbringing possible and anyone (and I mean anyone) who threatens that has got to go!

Sources
http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf
http://www.icyrnet.net/UserFiles/mullender.pdf
http://www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/research/questions/gillick_wda61289.html

Previous McDad Posts;
http://wp.me/p3tJrr-2H
http://wp.me/p3tJrr-2q

Please vote below;

Have I Made The Right Decision by Ceasing Contact?

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McDad: Asserting Himself

Today I received a letter from the Family Mediation service. McDad has approached them because ‘he feels mediation may be helpful in resolving differences between’ you.

Apparently he thinks this is a good idea.

Actually this is less about access to his child and more about asserting control. For the last 10 years I have encouraged him to be involved and he has chosen not to. He has not actually asked to see her in over a year! He preferred to see her if and when she happened to be at his mothers.

Now for the pleasure of mediation I am expected to pay £65.00 for the initial session, £120-140.00 per subsequent sessions and £100.00 per document.

As he is unemployed he will receive some kind of legal aid.

Now, what exactly are we going to mediation about? I presume it’s his access to his child and that we all should just ignore his aggressive violent nature and let him take this kid unsupervised.

So where do I go from here?

Is mediation mandatory?

Is it even a good idea?

Omo Mi

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Those eyes, that smile, those sun kissed cheeks
That squeaky voice and tiny feet
I saw your head and burst with joy
And all of my knowledge was yours to employ
Omo mi wander where you will
I am your mother and with you still
I want for nothing that you could give
Except that you prosper and love and live

McDad, the bully.

I have a daughter turning 11 this year. Her father and I parted ways when she was a year or so old.

During our relationship he was manipulative, violent, aggressive and a serial cheat.

Now you may wonder how I can to be with this poor excuse of a man in the first instance?

Well the description above conjures up certain images.

Abuse

What it probably does not bring up is a well-dressed, suited and booted middle class, law graduate with a master’s degree in marketing, working as a business manager for the NHS earning £40+

That’s who I initially went on a date with.

The manipulative violent guy didn’t show up until I was five months pregnant. We had been shopping and were driving back home talking about work. I had disagreed with a management strategy he was thinking of using and he decided that I was wrong and punched me in the side of the head, then then drove me to a dark remote council estate and kicked me out of the car without out my bag and drove off.

Over the next 2 years he punched, kicked repeatedly until I could not stand, strangled, spat on, threw things at and yelled abuse at me and trashed our home repeatedly. Often in front of our little girl. He wore me down emotionally and physically; even boasting that he had ‘beat me like i was some bloke down the pub’

It transpired that most of the times were him manipulating arguments so that he could go off in a huff and ‘stay at his mums’ for the weekend.

Stay at his mums equated to staying with the latest girl on the side.

cycle of violence

In the time I lived with him I changed from a healthy contented, confident woman to a friendless, shattered shadow of myself. I lost all confidence.

I often looked back and asked how I let all of it happen. The answers are simple.

I was scared. I was tired. I was financially tied to this creep.

But mostly I was ashamed.

Ashamed that it was happening to me.

Ashamed that this was the father of my child.

Ashamed of him.

I had tried to leave a year earlier. I desperately called various shelters and domestic violence groups. All told me that they would help but only if I cut myself off and this included leaving my job. The rational was that he could follow me to the shelter. Another charity told me that they cold not help me as I had a good job and should simply rent somewhere. As did hackney council.

Now I was willing to move but I was not willing to give up a job that I had worked hard in and moved up the ranks to end up a statistic in the benefits system. I went back home that night and pretended that I had not spend 7 hours phoning every charity or help line I could think of begging for help.

Once I walked bare foot to the local police station with my half-dressed child in my arms and broke down. But I didn’t press charges. Again I went home.

Finally after reporting him to the police several times I found the strength to see the process all the way to the court date.

I knew that I, as a parent owed my daughters a safe and happy life. This wasn’t it. I had to get them away from him.

vinthehome

I eventually found the strength to press charges against him and he was convicted of breaking and entering with excessive violence, criminal damage and aggravated assault. Lesser charges of theft were dropped.

Going through the process though answered a lot of questions about why women with draw their complaints. The police doctor treated me like some kind of idiot. She rolled her eyes, spoke down at me and I over heard her saying derogatory things about me to an officer.
Photo’s of the injuries, that I had suffered the humiliation of stripping off for, were lost and not available for court.
The final insult was that he got away with a small fine and broke his conditions by turning up at my home, several times, within days, shouting abuse but was not re-arrested and I had to pay for securing the flat and correcting the damage he had caused.

Over the 10 years that have passed, though he also lives in London, he has not had much involvement in our daughters upbringing. There was a school term where he was coming over and taking her to school a few years ago but this ended when he got a job (for which I gave him a reference)……………….. he didn’t bother to let us know that he wouldn’t be turning up……….he just didn’t.
Also during this period he’s had 5 different jobs. Four of which I’ve given him references for. And been sacked from all of them

And he has not supported her financially for almost half of the 10 years. No support at all during 2013 so far. But worse still is no communication. He doesn’t think that he should keep us updated on if or when maintenance will or won’t be coming from him.

So a man with all this time on his hands must devote a good portion of that to being involved in the care of his child. Right?

Errrrm no.

My daughter only sees him if she goes to stay at her paternal grandmothers’ for the weekend.

He paternal grandma has been a true blessing in our lives. She has been a consistent help and is always ready to chip in when it comes to the picking up or dropping off duties or the looking after her when she’s off school sick.

He father is what we English call a McDonalds Dad or as I prefer a McDad.

‘McDad’ Definition; ‘a man who sees his child infrequently and with whom activities mostly involve a movie and a meal at a fast food joint. He may occasionally turn up at a school play, birthdays, Christmas but carries out no parental duties or responsibilities.

It’s took a long time to build my confidence up and get myself to a happy place but a couple of years after we parted I woke one morning realizing it was over and my strength had returned.

My daughter thrives and is a lovely child. In fact both my children are kind and giving, thoughtful and intelligent. Despite the rough start.

The charity Womens’ Aid statistics reveal that 1 in 4 women in the UK will be victims of current or former partners in their lifetimes and 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

Being that I have seen the loss of self-control and the murderous hateful look in his eyes, I know things could have turned out differently.

(I was prompted to write this post after an awful verbal assault from McDad, who I haven’t seen since December 2012, this morning at my daughters school assembly. I will go on to write about that later as I think I’m not up to it emotionally at the moment. I’m in total shock that anyone would be have that way in public talk less of in a school hall with children running around. It’s been a rough day and i feel extremely weak.) (Please forgive any grammatical errors)

For a better understanding or domestic violence or for support please see the links below;
http://www.refuge.org.uk
http://www.womensaid.org.uk
http://gu.com/p/3eady

It’s The Music

(written for my 10 year old to perform on stage at Jacksons Lane)

It’s a beat at the back of my neck
Or the memory of mummy swaying in a long flowing dress
The time at uncles wedding where he tossed me up high
It’s feeling groovy and making me sigh

It’s the week when they broke up
And my sister cried and cried
Or when granddad passed on
Became an angel in the sky

Or the time I had a sleepover
We danced and laughed all night
When we danced at camp bestival
Jump around! We jumped so high!

It’s the sound track of the laughter and the tears
The memories, the moments, the smiles and the cheers
It’s music
It’s music
And the music is life

Home

(written for my 10 year old daughter to perform on stage at Jacksons Lane)

In the dead of the night
When I hear the dragons groan
And the shadows in the corner are starting to roam
I scrunch up the duvet
And squeeze my eyes shut tight
Then I remember it’ll be alright
My mums in kitchen
Big sisters on the phone
These are the sounds that say I’m safe at home

In the dead of the night
My hearts beating fast with incredible fright
Cos surely I hear spiders
Marching out to bite
And the monster in the cupboard
Might come out tonight
Huddled under the duvet
Eyes shut tight
Suddenly I remember
Yep I’ll be alright

Cos mum’s singing in the kitchen
And big sis is laughing on the phone
These are the sounds
That remind me
I’m safe at home