Boys clothes have predators, girls clothes have prey

When I found out my first child was going to be a boy, 4 weeks before he was born, I remember being very excited and at the same time thinking ‘there goes the dream of a child wearing dresses and pretty things’. Luckily there were some great boys clothes so I never felt like I missed out and didn’t think on it that much. When I do notice girls clothes what stands out to me is how much little girls clothes are sexualised with cold shoulder tops for 3 year olds. Once girls hit 8 or 9 they are expected to dress as mini provocative adults with very few options other available to them.

The other day I was chatting on a Facebook group when someone started talking about childrens clothing. We got into the usual boys clothes vs girls clothes debate (girls clothes are cheaper than boys in the under 10s). The conversation led onto the differences between clothes, how no matter how progressive our generation is, how gender neutral we want and encourage our children to be, the options aren’t available on the High Street. Someone in my group commented ‘boys clothes have predators on, girls clothes have prey’. This really struck a chord with me. A quick trawl of some popular childrens clothing sites showed exactly that.

Our generation still has a long way to go when fighting for women to have equal rights. Dressing children in clothes that are more aligned to this way of thinking feels a good place to start.

*both t-shirts in this image are from H&M’s current collection

Ride London can do one

I thought I would be really unpopular when I first started talking to friends about this, particularly as I have had the odd friend who has ridden in Ride London, but it turns out that a lot of us feel the same way. My issue is this: Every year they choose the same weekend. They then block off all the roads in the area making trying to get anywhere almost impossible. Without fail I always have an event on this weekend which I either can’t go to or spend 3 hours navigating motorways on a journey that takes 30 mins across town.

Many of you know I co-run a Child Contact Centre. An important resource for children to visit estranged parents in a safe environment. Contact Centre runs fortnightly with a maximum of 25 sessions per year. To put it in perspective, If the (estranged) parents and children attend all sessions, they spend a maximum of 50 hours together in a year. This year we had to cancel Contact Centre because families and volunteers couldn’t make it in with the road closures. For what? So people can ride their bikes? Something they can do any day of the week.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole camaraderie, team spirit and raising money for charity but it would be really, really nice if the event organisers could consider the residents when shutting down their roads or even ask if they want the bike race in their town in the first place.

A picture speaks a thousand words

I’m sure many of you have shortcuts when it comes to chatting to friends on line. I don’t mean the usual LOL, BRB sort of thing, but stuff that only you guys know the meaning of. Sometimes it’s easier in person; Lekki and I only have to look at each other in a certain way to know what the other is thinking. This is massively helped when she’s over here and not residing in the U.S. Over the last year Ashna and I have developed our own shorthand when on WhatsApp. Which seems a bit ridiculous as we see each other almost every day and always have lots to say. Knowing she loves cake and if I fancy a coffee but can’t be bothered to type it all out, I just send her a picture of a cake. A thumbs up in return means ‘I’ll be there in 10 mins’. Sometimes there is actually cake, other times I’ve lured her on false pretences. Same happens in the evening, although I’m more likely to snapshot a glass of wine after 6pm. Either way, a thumbs up still means 10 mins.

In a world where we’re bogged down with endless chatter. After all, how many Instagram pictures do you see posted without reams of text below it? Sometimes it’s nice to cut to the chase and use as few words as possible, until we see each other in person, where we then use all the words.

Being a Jedi takes commitment

A year ago when my partner and I got together I had to confess something. I didn’t like Star Wars. Not only did I not like Star Wars. I really didn’t like it. Not your usual pre-first date confession. Thing is we’d known each other for a couple of years as he used to cut the boys’ hair – nice guy I thought, seems normal. We connected on Instagram and I realised there weren’t any regular photos of him. Just him dressed as a Jedi. Not really knowing how serious he was about it, I thought I’d ask him out on a date and chat to him about it then.

All went well and it was time to tackle the weird Jedi/lack of regular Instagram photos, thing. My partner explained that it was known as Trooping and not only did they go and dress up for festivals/comic con etc, they also visited childrens charities etc. Ok, started to make a bit more sense, especially the visiting sick/disabled children and I guess, if Harry Potter had come out before I’d reached adulthood, I could have gone down that route.

We agreed we didn’t want to clash so we wouldn’t talk Star Wars and we carried on dating. Hmmmm 3rd movie we went to see together was the Last Jedi. I’ve now seen six of the movies, am the proud owner of a replica Vice Admiral Holdo’s Tiara and matching Funko pop and it turns out I do quite like Star Wars after all. Which is a good thing as it turns out – being a Jedi takes a hell of a lot of commitment. First there’s the costume, sent from America, endlessly fiddled around with by my perfectionist partner. (Don’t worry, it’s not like the YouTube fiascos, we both actually know how to sew). The light sabre, which was handmade to look weathered and battle worn, only to be sent back to the guy who made it, six months later, so it would look less weathered.  That’s just the costumes. In the year we’ve been together he’s trooped in Jersey, Birmingham, Manchester London and a childrens’ charity. All of these have involved cripplingly early starts, missed family occasions (lucky him, my family is huge and loud) and the kind of attention to detail that, if it’s not on a website, I’m not capable of. Turns out trooping is not just a bit of fun but a huge commitment too.

Kids need downtime

As soon as school finished, we headed off camping for the weekend. Brilliant, we thought we’d get in early right at the beginning of the school holidays and it would be nice to have a break. Except as parents, we know any form of holiday is double the work and most definitely not a holiday for the adults. The kids were a bit tetchy and we thought they’d relax in the change of environment. (I can hear about 100 parents laughing in my head as I write this). The trip was fine but throw in kids who are overtired from school, worn out and then have late bedtimes, all day of activities and the kids came home well and truly exhausted. They then went immediately to their Dad’s, who had a load of activities lined up for them.

We all know that the long summer holidays are hard to manage. Everything costs a fortune. Trying to work and entertain kids 24/7 is hell on earth and, having boys, I may as well just divert my salary directly to the supermarket. Everyone on my Facebook and IG feeds seem to be doing something every day and to be honest I can’t keep up.

This week it was time to give the boys a rest. Just have ‘home days’ where they chilled out, played with toys and inevitably, watched Fortnite gameplay on YouTube. Obviously we won’t be putting all this in their holiday diaries when they return to school but I believe it’s done them the world of good. They’ve been imaginative, creative and most of all, got on with each other (and me) really well. So while everyone else is rushing round #makingmemories I’ll be home playing with the kids and enjoying not being whipped from one exhausting activity to the other.