It’s that time of year when a lot of us are invited into school for parents’ evening. In theory this should be a straightforward matter. You go in, listen to what the teacher has to say about your beloved, ask questions and ideally leave feeling peachy. In reality, it rarely works this way.

Don't stress!
Don’t stress!

Firstly it’s a mass scramble to get the appointment that you want. Everything is done online now so you have to sit at the computer, fingers poised, waiting for the booking system to open. If you forget you’re basically screwed and will end up with the worst appointment slot ever, namely when the kids are normally having their meltdowns or when it’s impossible for you to sort out babysitting. Whatever the case, you’re screwed and you only have yourself to blame.

Like me, you might even consider taking an early appointment, straight after school, so that you don’t have to go home, rush around, get a babysitter and then come out again. In theory this should work well. Think again. Unless you are lucky enough to be blessed with angelic children who will sit quietly in the corner reading books whilst you have your appointment (seriously, there are some kids that do this) then just DON’T DO IT. My two monsters spent the entire time running around the school hall shrieking with laughter playing tag. I barely heard a word of what the teacher said, got eyeballed by irritated parents and basically felt humiliated.

parents eveing funny
So true…..(The Simpsons)

So this time I tried the opposite approach and opted for the late appointment at 7pm, leaving the kids at home. To be honest, it felt like a night out. I loved leaving the house on my own, enjoyed catching up with friends in the school hall and had countless cups of tea without interruption. It was flipping brilliant. The only negative was that by this stage of the evening, the appointments were all running late (there’s always one overly keen parent who monopolises the teachers and asks a million questions), the teachers were knackered and there was no time for discussion. Oh well…who cares? At least I got a night out midweek. Woo hoo!

The worst scenario for me would have been for the teachers to tell me that Flump was badly behaved. Asian family rule number 1: Never bring shame upon the family.  Or that she wasn’t reaching her academic targets. Asian family rule number 2: You must always get good grades so that you can become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, even if you are only seven years of age.  It doesn’t matter how anglicised or alternative you think you are, if you have a drop of Asian blood in you, these rules apply.

Parents’ evening is like a rite of passage for parents. It’s all a bit nerve-racking the first few times, as we have no idea what to expect, but after a while it becomes easier. Then of course it gets worse again as the kids get older and have exams to pass. But until that horror kicks in, I’m going to make the most of my midweek night out…I might even organise dinner and drinks next time around! Who would have thought parents’ evening could be so much fun?




Female Friendships

I’ve always believed that having a good set of girlfriends is a really positive and enriching experience. With age and responsibility our lives become increasingly busy with work, relationships and/or kids, but in my view we should always make time for our female friends. And yes, I even mean make time for that one crazy, overly emotional, slightly neurotic friend who we all love and despair over.

First and foremost, we can’t beat the ‘old is gold’ friendships. Those friends that have known us since childhood and travelled through life with us. From ugly duckling to spotty adolescent, these friends have seen us at our worst. We can share our private thoughts with them safe in the knowledge that they will not judge us and will always want the best for us. These are the most precious friendships.

Thirty five years of friendship
Thirty five years of friendship..not a word about my hair

Then we also have those friendships from our late teens/early 20’s, when we have shared milestone moments like moving away from home, university, our first job or first serious relationship.  These are wonderful friendships that we have experienced in our most formative years, as we have developed and matured into adulthood. These friends knew us before the realities and responsibilities of life kicked in, when we were full of hope and dreams.

And let’s not forget our crazy, party girl friends who still frequent the most happening places in town and always guarantee a good night out. We know they will make us behave disgracefully, dance around our handbags and shriek with laughter all night long, but that we will pay for it the next morning when we can’t get out of bed and spend all week feeling and looking like death warmed up.

Then there are our work or school mum friends who we see every day but perhaps don’t know very well, on a personal level. Some of these relationships will remain courteous and superficial but, over time, there will be one or two people who we really connect with. These friendships are engaging and exciting because we have a shared experience.

And finally there’s the crazy, psycho friend who drains the life out of us with all of her drama and emotional anguish but who has a heart of gold. We know that, in between all of her sobbing and self-loathing, she will happily offer a shoulder to cry on should we need it.

In my experience, the best female friendships are the ones that are uncomplicated. The ones that don’t simmer with complex layers of resentment, competitiveness or envy.  Moreover they need to be reciprocal. It’s no good if I’m always the one offering tea, biscuits and pastries but never get an invitation back. No, thank you very much – I’d like a chocolate hobnob please. It’s not so much about expectation but more about making a person feel valued and appreciated. Once you identify who your closest female allies are, life becomes so much simpler and healthier.  So we should rejoice in our female friendships; put the nappies /laptop/dyson vacuum cleaner to one side and enjoy a bit of girly fun as there’s no heartier laughter than that experienced with our girlfriends.

From ugly ducklings to party girls. Childhood friends

Ten Years On

It’s been ten LONG years since the Old Git and I got married. Eleven since we first met and I changed his life for the better. After months of relentless pursuit, I finally gave in and said ‘yes’ (just to stop him from hounding me, to be honest). He hasn’t looked back since, obviously, and thanks me everyday for being such a great wife. Okay, he doesn’t really do this last bit but I know he thinks it on the inside. 

The day we said "I Do"
The day we said “I Do”

Naturally things change over the course of ten years. The Old Git isn’t quite as attentive or adoring as he used to be and I just find him annoying most of the time. We don’t gaze into each other’s eyes like we used to or spend hours discussing our feelings. Nope. Instead we spend a lot of time eyeballing each other angrily or discussing our monthly budget (yawn). Yes, this is married life ten years down the line. Throw in a couple of hyperactive kids and it’s a life completely different to the one I started with.

That being said, it’s one I wouldn’t want to change (apart from the bit about the Old Git going on about monthly budgets…yawn). It’s quite nice having the odd cuddle and even better having someone I can whinge to on demand. The Old Git is a bit like a warm old blankie..he makes me feel all toastie and snug. We’ve had highs and lows, moments of extreme joy and sadness. Such is life. But we’ve managed to endure them together and move forward.  With time comes understanding and patience. Key ingredients for any marriage. I’m no expert but what I do know is that, ten years on, the Old Git and I know when to choose our battles, understand when the other is feeling vulnerable and support each other’s dreams and aspirations. Furthermore, he gives me full charge of the TV remote control which would otherwise be a deal breaker.

It also helps if you still fancy your other half. Imagine if the Old Git was annoying AND unattractive? That would just be too much for me to bear.

On our ten year wedding anniversary
On our ten year wedding anniversary

Some people like to project this rosy image of constant marital bliss but this is deceptive. Behind closed doors every relationship faces challenges and is tested. We are all imperfect and so are our relationships. But that doesn’t mean that they are not good, healthy or fulfilling. They can be all of these things even in their state of imperfection. My Old Git may annoy me but I’m not going to ask for a refund quite just yet. He isn’t a bad catch and is aging quite nicely. Who knows what the next ten years will bring?

Sibling Love

I’m not sure what’s up with my kids these days but they are acting like the spawn of Satan.  Every evening, as soon as we step into the house the hysteria begins. It takes a whole five minutes before one of them starts howling (normally Ludoo) and the other starts shouting angrily (normally Flump).

They used to get on so well (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but at least they could be in the same room together without wanting to smack each other) but lately the sibling tension has reached new heights. If it’s not Ludoo destroying his sister’s carefully constructed Lego creation, it’s Flump snatching her brother’s precious toy cars and throwing them behind the radiator, never to be retrieved again. The daily ritual of Flump screaming at her brother to “get outttttt!” whilst he beats down her door hysterically normally culminates with me threatening to send them both to bed immediately. Big sigh. It’s exhausting and infuriating. Why the heck can’t they just get along?

Of course my siblings and I were model children. NOT. Admittedly at school we were perfectly well behaved as we knew Asian parents would not tolerate any kind of public embarrassment, and to be summoned into the headmistress’s office for bad behaviour would have been the ultimate humiliation. We knew better than to risk that.

The Khan siblings

But at home it was a different matter. My younger brother and I wanted to kill each other for a good portion of our childhood. We used to grunt at each other angrily and were always separated in the car by our older sister who would sit in the middle in case we tried to savage each other. I once dislodged my brother’s front tooth by kicking him in the face and he once stabbed my sister in the arm with a biro. We were such lovely, charming children.

My brother and I used to fight like cat and dog

I suppose I don’t really have a leg to stand on when I complain about my own children not getting along as my poor parents had to endure much worse. That being said, my siblings and I are perfectly well adjusted, happy individuals who have positive and healthy relationships with each other now…thirty years on! Crap! I really hope it doesn’t take that long for Ludoo and Flump to start getting along again.

Of course it’s completely normal for siblings to quarrel and as long as they aren’t having a punch up my philosophy is to not intervene and give them the opportunity to resolve things themselves.  But very young children (like my own) often need help resolving conflict and managing their emotions. Finding a way to encourage them to work as a team (someone suggested a ‘Teamwork Jar’ where you can add and deduct coins for good/bad teamwork), as well as not taking sides are both excellent starting points.  I’m hopeful my two monkeys will revert to being friends again soon but in the meantime I’m going to invest in a really good pair of headphones to drown out the screaming and work on my scary, threatening voice. Of course we all want to equip our kids with the right life skills and develop their emotional intelligence, but sometimes (okay, quite often) we just have to ignore, threaten and repeat.  Eventually they should just wear themselves out.