The Smiths’ Christmas Letter

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Dear Family, Friends and any other random person interested in the minutiae of my life

Happy Christmas! Wow, what a fantastic year 2015 has been for the Smiths! I am sure you are all dying to know all the wonderful things that have happened to us and how successful we have been so here’s a blow-by-blow account…

Little Johnny has had the BEST year! In March he started to CRAWL!   What a superstar! He is still waking every hour during the night and screaming for his mummy but we don’t mind because he is so cute and adorable and we treasure every moment with him. He’s definitely got a powerful set of lungs – we are all sure he is going to be an opera singer when he grows up (after all Aunty Jean was the star of her local operatic society for many years so it’s in the genes…!)

What about our gorgeous little Rosie? Well, she’s had quite a year. She must be the busiest 6 year old in the country! Mondays – gymnastic club (watch out Nadia Comaneci, Rosie is coming!), Tuesdays – swimming lessons (one-to-one, she is learning SO much more with the individual attention), Wednesdays – flute (she’s showing so much promise and her teacher says she’ll be ready for Grade 5 by the summer), Thursdays – ballet (not quite en pointe yet but not long now!) and Fridays – FREE time! Rosie likes to entertain on Fridays with one of her darling little school friends – always such fun and something Mummy looks forward to ALL week.

The only little cloud on the horizon this year for Rosie has been the “biting”. We have spent a lot of time (and money) on getting to the bottom of this with Rosie and her psychologist and we are all sure that for Rosie the “biting” is just a sign of affection for her friends and siblings. Sinking her teeth into their flesh is just her version of a kiss – rather sweet when you think about it. All her friends’ mummies and daddies have been SO understanding and anyway Rosie is just so so sweet that it’s impossible not to fall in love with her instantly.

Just time for a bit of mummy-boasting. Rosie was MARY in the school nativity! We were so so proud. Rosie and I spent months researching the role so she could really get her teeth (ha! ha!) into the part. I also spent days making her the most beautiful Mary costume – I love sewing. Even if I do say it myself, Rosie was the STAR of the play – everyone said so. Joseph was less convincing and picked his nose throughout which upset Rosie no end – I explained to her that it is very difficult to work with animals and children – she totally understood.

As for Archie – he continues to amaze us! He is spending increasing amounts of time in front of a screen and less and less time communicating with humans. We don’t mind though as he seems to have made so many WONDERFUL friends on the Internet – all seem thoroughly nice and normal. He seems to have lost interest in all outside activities and hobbies but we are so proud that he is showing such focus on his computer studies. I have taken to texting him when his supper is ready – we all think this is terribly amusing but I’m not sure Archie really understands the irony!

There was a small incident this year with Archie getting a little carried away with his father’s credit card. Daddy dealt with this so well and with such patience and empathy. All part of life’s rich tapestry eh? No-one said this parenting lark would be a breeze. Anyway it’s all behind us now and Archie will have repaid his debts by the age of 35.

What about Daddy? He’s had another phenomenally successful year at work. He is without doubt the lynchpin of his firm and we are all SO proud of him. It is quite clear that he is regarded as a hero not only at home but at work too. This year he’s managed to juggle the impossible demands of his job with running 15 marathons, raising thousands for charity and he’s still home every evening to read to the kids. Reading to children is SO important and nothing makes me happier than to hear Daddy being Daddy Pig (he’s just so good at the voice) while little Rosie laughs hysterically.

Then there’s little ol’ me! Another blissful year of motherhood and parenting. I can honestly say I’ve loved every minute – don’t miss work, adult company or intellectual stimulation in the slightest. I have to admit to a little “stumble” in the summer when I thought perhaps I might go back to work – part-time of course. The children were very upset and protested so much that I soon gave up on that idea – it’s SO lovely to be so loved, wanted and needed! Anyway, who would take Rosie to ballet – I know that 3 hours drive to a ballet school may seem a bit excessive to some but it is such a good school and she is so talented apparently? Anyway, each day is so different and brings so many new joys that I have on occasion even managed to miss Wine O’Clock!

So Happy Christmas to you all from the Smiths. We hope that 2016 brings as many blessings and joy as 2015 has for us! It would be lovely to see you all this year so please do give us a call – apologies in advance if you get the answerphone but we are all SO busy and SO happy!

Much love xxx

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All my Children Hear is Blah! Blah! Blah!

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As a mother I reckon at least 75% of what I say to my children is either ignored or greeted by an expression of complete bewilderment that I could say something so utterly pointless or incomprehensible. In fact, I’m fairly confident that if I were to stop speaking altogether my children would probably not notice unless I failed to answer one of their requests (which are in themselves pretty academic given that my answer is usually ignored unless it the one my child wanted).

Most worrying of all, I have started to answer my own questions out loud.

Me: “Did you enjoy school today?”
Me: “Yes Mum, thanks for asking. I had a lovely day.”

There is probably only so long I can continue in this vein without risking at best being dismissed as the “Mutter Nutter” by the children or at worst being sectioned.

Let’s take the things that I say which are ignored or “not heard”. Firstly, I must tell my boys to “stop fighting” at least 15 times a day. Do they ever stop fighting? Do they even look up and register that they’ve heard my command? No, of course not. Why do I bother? Asking them to stop fighting is like asking the Kardashians to all get on – it’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

How about “please could you brush your teeth”? A not unreasonable request I feel but it is either totally ignored or met with a reaction you might expect if I had asked them to stick rusty pins in their eyes. As much as I try to convince my children of the advantages of oral hygiene, they remain unmoved. The boys shrug when I tell them that in the future girls won’t come anywhere near them and my daughter who thinks all kissing between men and women is utterly gross is rather relieved that not brushing her teeth will excuse her in the future from such a grotesque activity.

Then there’s “please could you calm down and help me” in the supermarket. In my experience supermarkets do the most bizarre things to our children. A relatively calm, well-behaved individual becomes a monster once faced with strip lighting, shopping trolleys and aisles. The little darlings who trotted in obediently at my side (OK that’s an exaggeration and just one of my insane mother fantasies where I smile benignly at the beautifully behaved children at my side whilst people, from all sides, congratulate me on my offspring’s exemplary conduct and my exceptional mothering skills….and, snap fingers, you’re back in the room…) suddenly have to run and jump and scream and knock old ladies over. Of course, the more I ask them to behave, the more boisterous they become. Then I become “shouty” and “stressy” (to use my daughter’s descriptors) and threaten things I can never carry out – usually along the lines of you are never ever watching any TV again. Inspiring mothering skills, well done me.

Perhaps my most ignored utterance is “could you please turn that off” – referring to one of a million devices which seem to multiply on a monthly basis. My pathetically weak demand is of course ignored and I can often be seen wrestling iPads, smartphones etc off my children in desperation for some real rather than virtual interaction. Once I get their attention, however, I usually manage to blow it by boring them senseless with tales of my childhood when we entertained ourselves, didn’t have any of these devices and only had three TV channels. Again, a total waste of breath. The children look at me with expressions of deep pity and no understanding of how child cruelty on such a grand scale was ever allowed to occur. One of my sons cannot quite believe that we did not have remote controls for the TV and that we actually had to heave ourselves off the sofa and walk the four steps over to the TV to change channels or switch it off. He shakes his head, a look of incredulity on his face – astounded that anyone could suffer such depths of deprivation.

The expression of greatest bewilderment however is reserved for when I go down the self-indulgent path of telling my children that before they were around, I had a job (and a life?) – I worked, I earned money, I even wore clothes other than my tracky bums. Yes, kids, hard to believe I know but I actually worked in a professional capacity before I accepted this long-term, badly paid, long–hours-with-no-time off position as a mother to three extremely demanding bosses.

I’ll end with an observation. The only time I get an immediate response to something I ask is exactly when I do not want an immediate response. For my children, like all children, saying “thank you” is not an instinctive thing. Often I find myself after doing something special saying to the children, “It would be so nice if you could say “thank you” to me after such a treat without being prompted”. To which, of course, they immediately respond in unison with no sincerity at all, “Thank you, Mum”. Not the point at all.

Ten reasons I suspect I’m not going to win “Mother of the Year”

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  1. I am openly happy to see them go back to school at the end of the holidays. I liken the anticipation to that I felt in the run-up to Christmas when I was a child. I am positively jubilant and am completely unable to empathise with those who bang on about how much they are dreading the end of the holidays and how they are going to miss their children hugely blah, blah blah. To my mind they are one of two things: liars or delusional.
  2. I have manufactured an incurable and deadly allergy to glue and paint to prevent any attempts at “messy play” in my house. Anyway, isn’t that what schools are for? But painting and sticking is fun isn’t it? No, it’s not and frankly depriving my children of this extra dimension to their childhood is not going to keep me awake at night.
  3. I don’t iron any of my children’s clothes – I fold. I fold very well indeed. Folding is a much under-rated skill which I have perfected over many years of iron-shirking. I don’t like ironing and spending hours sweating over an ironing board is pointless if the person you’re ironing for a) doesn’t notice your effort b)couldn’t care less whether their clothing is creased c)has spilled something down the front of ironed clothing within 2 minutes of dressing. As for ironing underwear…come on, please – surely your time can be used more productively?
  4. I don’t do nametapes. Well, actually strictly speaking that is not true. At the start of my mothering “career”, I painstakingly sewed on scores of nametapes – pricking my finger on the needle countless times, accidentally sewing the item to my trousers on more than one occasion and wishing constantly that my children had shorter names and that I had married someone whose surname was one syllable of two letters.   I gave up sewing on nametapes years ago and moved on to “iron on” nametapes: I refer you to the point I made above – I don’t iron. So now, I employ a much easier method – permanent marker. Not the neatest, I’ll grant you, but marvellously quick and most effective.
  5. I have started buying mashed potato rather than making it.   This slippery slope into culinary laziness started innocuously with buying ready-made fishcakes and chicken nuggets and now has insidiously spread to buying mashed potato and even, on occasion, ready-to-microwave vegetables. I am not proud of this and I can almost hear the gasps of horror from the more wholesome amongst you. The bottom line is this – I hate peeling potatoes and my mash is always lumpy and either too sloppy or too stodgy. Life is too short to mash especially when someone else can do it much better than you at a reasonable price.
  6. I would often secretly prefer a glass of wine and a flick through Facebook than reading a bedtime story to my children. I don’t believe I am alone in this but perhaps alone in admitting to it. I know reading to children is vital and I do sometimes enjoy it but frankly there are some days when I am ready to lamp Peppa Pig and the rest of her porcine family. I do find a few medicinal sips of wine before reading “Peppa Pig” does help with these irrationally aggressive thoughts and stops the urge to jump up and down in muddy puddles until Peppa et al are completely soaked and begging you to stop.
  7. I don’t like watching kids’ films or cartoons. So as not to be mean-spirited, I do, on occasion, sit down with the children to watch a film. Most recently, the Minions movie – all I can say is that the parts which I did not sleep or text through were mind-numbingly terrible and I simply can’t understand why my children found it so hilarious and then compounded my misery by shouting “King Bob” endlessly for days afterwards. Watching the Minions movie was two hours of my life that I can never get back.
  8. I don’t let them win games. Well, I do sometimes but often my competitiveness gets the better of me.   Does it matter if I win “Ludo”? Somehow it does seem to. I love Scrabble and there is no way that I am going to let my children win even if it is Junior Scrabble. Pathetic I know. The only game which I couldn’t give a toss about is Snakes and Ladders which is without doubt the most painful, excruciatingly dull game ever invented and when forced to play, I wish fervently that my opponent gets to 100 without encountering any snakes but landing on every ladder opportunity just to stop the monotony.
  9. I get shouty in supermarkets. Everyone else’s children seem to be behaving absolutely fine. Mine, on the other hand,turn into demented lunatics playing their own version of “Supermarket Sweep” at the expense of any old ladies or food products which are in their way.   I get shouty; they behave even worse; I threaten something I can’t possibly carry out – eg no television ever ever ever again; they ignore me.
  10. I wouldn’t give them my last Rolo. Actually this is not strictly true – I would give them my last Rolo as I don’t like Rolos much but I certainly would not give them my last fizzy cola bottle. No way. I know that I bang on about sharing at least 20 times a day to the children, but sometimes I don’t want to share. The last fizzy cola bottle is one of those occasions.  Anyway, sweets are bad for their teeth, right?

A Letter to Boys 1 and 2 …

Dear Boys 1 and 2

We’ve “successfully” reached the 6 week mark of the summer holidays…3 more to go and so far we are all largely unscathed.  However, I thought I would just make a few observations which could help the last 3 weeks go even more smoothly (if “smoothly” is the most appropriate adverb)  than the last 6 weeks.

  • If you wish to beat the c*** out of each other, be my guest, but I would appreciate it if all fighting takes places out of sight and out of earshot.  We all know that it will end in one of three ways: Boy 1 injured and crying, Boy 2 injured and crying or Boys 1 and 2 both injured and crying.  Since the outcome is inevitable, I would be grateful if you could only report back to me if life or my property is endangered.
  • Please could you refrain from tormenting your younger sister any more than is necessary.  I understand that baiting her is good sport but over the last 6 weeks she has turned from a fairly well-adjusted individual to someone who screams at the sight of an ant and who becomes a gibbering wreck at the mention of a sha….rk even when we are at least 500 metres inland.
  • Please stop “liking” my pictures on Instagram.  This is frankly narcissistic as most of the photos are of you and secondly, it is not exactly smart to “like” my Instagram photos when you are on an “electronics” ban – I am no technological wizard but even I know that in order to “like” my photos, you have to go on-line, for which you need access to any one of the electronic devices from which you have been expressly banned.
  • Please don’t tell me to “chill” or “stop being so stressy”.  Such vernacular has a polar opposite effect on me.  Those very words make my blood pressure rocket and the probability of rage quadruple.
  • Please don’t ignore my every word all day as if I do not exist and then insist on speaking to me when I am on the phone. I cannot work out why you are completely unable to respond to any of my questions/requests throughout the day but as soon as I am temporarily unavailable, suddenly you wish to speak to me with the utmost urgency about something which is always of very little consequence – along the lines of “can I have a snack?” – why are you asking me now…you don’t normally ask, you normally just help yourself?  Why does the appearance of the phone at my ear suddenly turn you from monosyllabic to positively loquacious?
  • Nothing awful will happen to you if you don’t look at a computer screen or a TV for a whole morning or afternoon, or God forbid, both – I promise you.  It is not, as you maintain, Boy 2, “child cruelty” to keep boy and screen apart.
  • Please please could you brush your teeth…just occasionally.  It literally does take 2 minutes.  I don’t understand your antipathy to such a simple task which takes you so little time but means so much to me.  Boys, you are prepared to spend hours getting the contours of your hair exactly right, so why not your teeth? Believe me, you will thank me in a couple of years time…girls don’t appreciate a lack of oral hygiene.
  • I understand that a bit of competition is healthy but you two take it to a whole new level.  Even the simplest of tasks become a mission for one of you to outdo the other.  What makes it all the more annoying is that you ask me or your father to referee/judge every little “competition” – quite apart from the fact that I don’t care or want to be involved, this is an impossible task as whatever the outcome,  the results mirror those in my first point although sometimes, thankfully, without injury incurred.  Boys, you’ve just got to “chill”….see, how annoying it is???
  • Lastly, this morning you educated me on another of your incomprehensible expressions – giving someone a “shout-out” on Instagram.  Apparently, you give your mates a “shout-out”on Instagram to tell everybody how wonderful they are and how much you appreciate them/their friendship etc.  Lovely sentiment.  Where’s my shout-out? Forget your M8s for one second and tell everyone how gr8 your mother is and then you and everyone else can “like” that to their heart’s content.

I expect you won’t read this – Boy 1 because it is in the form of a letter rather than a text/email and Boy 2 simply because you are yet to appreciate that enjoyment could possibly be gained from reading…but if you chance upon it, then despite the above, you are both wonderful boys with whom there is never a dull moment.

Much love Mum x

We’re all going on a school residential trip…

Today my elder son has gone off on his school residential trip to Newquay.  As he set off at 5.30am, I have to admit to a few pangs of anxiety but also excitement for him.  I remember only too well my first school residential trip to Streatley (although I was only 7 at the time) – we ate loads of sweets, wore our cagoules all day despite scorching sunshine and had a field trip song which we sang endlessly on our return – well, until Graham in my class swore at the familiar first strains of the song – “not that b***** song again” – overheard by the headmaster… an error that I am sure Graham has never repeated.

So back to my son’s trip.  The build-up has been going on for weeks – who’s sharing a room with whom; who’s sitting next to whom on the coach; should he buy a KFC or a McDonalds at the service station on the way down; does Lucozade count as an energy drink (banned apparently) and so it goes on.

My role, as usual, has been to ensure that he is provided with suitable clothing and footwear and to pack his Lordship’s bag for him.  I have carried out this task with my normal sunny disposition, a minimal amount of complaint – just the odd muttering under my breath.  Of course, as to be expected, my son has fully appreciated my input and has been unable to stop thanking me for all I have done.

The kit list provided by the school has though presented a few issues.  I have tried to follow the instructions to the letter and hence have packed accordingly 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks.  I have done this in the full knowledge that 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks will return unworn.  We were asked to pack black bin liners so that the boys can put all their dirty washing in a bag to bring home.  Well, I am fairly certain that I shall be able to use those very black bin liners for their original purpose on his return as I have placed them in a side pocket which since he suffers from that all-male congenital condition “man eyes”, he is very unlikely to see let alone open and use.  I did point the side pocket out to him and the black bin liners and he asked me to write “black bin liners” with a Sharpie on the pocket – I declined on aesthetic grounds and anyway it won’t make a blind bit of difference (I refer you back to congenital “man eyes”).

The kit list also gave rise to Deodorantgate.  I am not thanking the school for this.  The innocuous  “wash bag containing – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc” has unleashed a whole new beast in our house – Lynx “Africa”.  I have so far avoided having to buy deodorant for my son – having judged it not yet necessary but since it was on the kit list my son with an uncharacteristic regard for detail and obedience told me that he had to have some.  I duly bought his first deodorant but forgot to tell him that less is more.  Consequently our house (and its occupants) are now gasping under a cloud of heady (read “headachey”) and intoxicating (read “choking”) eau d’Africa.  Personally “Africa” is not what springs to mind on inhalation unless we’re talking part-hyena with giraffe dung or something.  Anyway, teachers who were mad enough to volunteer to go on this trip with my son, beware the morning (and evening) spray – it’s powerful stuff.

As for the toothbrush and toothpaste, this has become somewhat of an obsession with me – I must have said to him at least 40 times this weekend – “don’t forget to brush your teeth” .  Who am I kidding? There is no way that toothbrush will see the light of day over the next week let alone the meet the toothpaste.  Anyway, it’s not as if my son brushes his teeth religiously when he’s home – if I’m brutally honest, despite my threats, he probably only brushes them on average 2.2 times a week.

Anyway, I hope he and his friends have a wonderful time – I know they will, the trip looks amazing.  He won’t care if he’s wearing the same underwear every day and I’m not there to care and anyway if he does, less washing on his return for me.  Silver linings….

The Great Homework Conspiracy

IMG_4378There has been a lot of debate in my sons’ school about homework – its role, its value, the amount a child of a certain age should do etc.  I know where I stand on this issue.  Homework is a valuable tool in helping children to work independently and to reinforce learning in the classroom.  For me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and I’d far rather my child was spending time reading or doing maths for an hour after school than watching endless Stampy Whathisname videos on YouTube or having mindless, inane chats online with kids with whom they’ve just spent the whole day.

However, there is a caveat.  There is another whole field of homework which I am less keen on – that which is designed to highlight the inadequacies of the parents and divide mothers/fathers/random relatives into three main groups – “The Can-and-Will-Dos”, “The Can’t-but-Will-Try-Dos” and “The Can’t-and-Will-Not-Dos” (The Can-and-Will-Not-Dos” is a very small minority group who irritatingly could do but rather breezily choose not to – “too cool for school”).  What am I talking about?  I am talking about all those homework tasks that are ostensibly set for the children but are in fact set as some sort of test for the parents – which I inevitably and somewhat regrettably (for my children) fail on an all too regular basis.  Call me paranoid but I think there is some sort of conspiracy at work to foster parental competitive spirit and an almost Darwinian battle for superstar parent supremacy.

Let’s take the last couple of weeks in my children’s school lives.  First up, my middle child had “Roman Day”.  Nothing makes my heart sink more than the email landing in my inbox informing me that one or other child has got to find a costume to wear to school because it’s role play time.  I know I sound like a miserable old goat but how many people have actually got gladiator, Julius Caesar or whatever Roman outfits hanging around the house?  “Make one!” I hear you cry.  Just the mere thought of making a Roman costume is enough to send me into a hot and cold sweat  – my sewing lessons ended very abruptly at the age of 11 when I was dismissed permanently after breaking the sewing machine three times in one lesson (actually something I am rather proud of if the truth be told).

No, making it is not an option for me – to be honest, arts and crafts generally are one of my weaker parenting skill sets.  For me, the only option is good old Amazon and the inevitable plethora of Roman Costumes being hawked around precisely for all those poor parents like me who would otherwise be an utter disgrace to their precious offspring.  Even with a particularly tasteful Roman Soldier costume that looks like it would combust if even shown a flame, my son is not satisfied.  Apparently he needs footwear too.  Sandals….in January.  I draw the line at this – I tell him that he will have to wear his (admittedly bright blue) Crocs.  He looks mortified and plumps for his school shoes as a very much last resort.  I’ve failed him of that he makes sure I am aware.

Roman Day is hotly followed by “making specialised cells” homework for my eldest child.  Again this is some sort of hidden testing of my parental abilities I’m sure. First off, my son is 10, nearly 11, and I’d much rather at this age he was learning the properties of such cells and drawing diagrams than being tasked with making 3D versions of said cells from whatever material he wishes.  Inevitably, my son chooses to make sperm cells along with every other boy of his age in a single sex school.  No other cell was ever really going to get a look in was it? He informs me of this task, I immediately get “the fear” and then he promptly leaves it with me with the nonchalant suggestion that he might do them in plasticine or papier-mâché.  Well, I don’t do papier-mâché.  Full stop.  A way-too-advanced technique for someone who can barely use a ruler to draw a square.  So plasticine it is – which, of course, has to be bought because funnily enough my 10 year old son hasn’t really played with plasticine for the last 5 years.

Sperm cell plasticine test – passed – I think (although not without much debate about the length of the sperm “tail” and where to put the nucleus).  I dare to breathe a sigh of relief…but oh no, too soon because into my inbox pops the next test of my parental skills – the baking test!  My favourite! My baking offerings, in the past, have always been rather conspicuous by their absence.  Frankly, the boys have never been that bothered and there always seem to have been countless other mothers keen to showboat their baking masterpieces, so I’ve just sort of slipped under the radar.  This approach does not work with my daughter.  No, not only does she insist that “we”(and I mean “we” in the loosest sense of the word) must bake for the cake sale but also “we” must enter the cakes “we” make for the cake decorating competition which the school is so kindly running alongside the cake sale.  Incidentally, the cakes must be decorated with a nod to her school house (Mars) and include a full breakdown of their ingredients for “health & safety”.

So “we” make the cakes badly, “we” decorate the cakes badly, “we” photograph the cakes for the competition, “we” take the cakes to the cake sale and then I can’t be sure but I’m fairly certain that my daughter buys back the very cakes “we” have baked at a vastly inflated price.  OK, I know, I know,  it’s all for charity.

As I sit here writing this, I am eagerly awaiting my next mission (should I choose to accept it).  Half term is nearly upon us and I’m quite sure that with all that time off when we are supposedly twiddling our thumbs, the schools will have concocted something fairly spectacular for the children/actually the parents to do.  Before I am roundly attacked for my lack of enthusiasm and support for my children’s endeavours, I ask you just to think back to the last time your child was supposed to make something at home for school – who made it? How many minutes attention did your child give the task compared to the hours you put in?

BLOOMing Bands

Summer 1967 – the Summer of Love; Summer 2014 – the Summer of the Loom Band.

This is not going to make me popular but I’m going to say it anyway. Loom bands (or Loon Bands when you step back and reflect on the elastic band hysteria which has overtaken the world) are or rather were all very well. Am I the only mother who is secretly sick of this kid-friendly but deliriously-frenzied cottage industry?

Ok – I quite liked the craze at the start. It made me feel all cuddly and warm inside (and a smidgeon smug) to think of all my children crafting together, making stuff, creating stuff. Isn’t this precisely the sort of “Blue Peter” moment that most of us dream of – actually hearing my ten year old son say “here’s one I made earlier”. At the start I didn’t mind wearing a collection of intricately woven (or not so intricately woven in the case of my 5 year old) elastic bands – more smug feelings – “look at me – arty, crafty mother” (which incidentally has always been one of my weaker parenting skill sets). However, enough is enough – I have been totally “loom banded” – no finger, toe, ankle, wrist, neck, ponytail in my family is unadorned. I have turned into one giant loom band – elastic fantastic.

I never thought I’d say this but I almost want my children to go back to playing Minecraft if only to stop the incessant requests to make me a ring, a bracelet, an ankle thingy, followed by an in-depth discussion of the pluses/minuses of a “ladder” loom band pattern as opposed to a “fishtail” and finally the constant measuring to see if it fits. Minecraft has always seemed extraordinarily pointless to me – our recent holiday was dominated by a row of children sitting side by side on the sofa on individual iPads inhabiting their own and each other’s virtual worlds – whatever happened to the real world…try talking to each other – radical concept I know. However, pointless as it is, I am starting to think that loom-banding is even more so.

Hats off to the inventor of this craze and the near-mythical hundreds of millions he has supposedly made from it. It reminds me of the Emperor’s New Clothes. He has convinced us all to part with our hard-earned cash for a load of elastic bands which are no different to common or garden elastic bands except for their garish colours and most offensive of all in some cases for their smell (reference 80s kids – “scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers were way better – particularly bubblegum).

No doubt, come September and the return to school, the craze will be over. What will be left with? About a trillion elastic bands – too small to be of any practical use but small enough to invade every nook and cranny. Oh yes, and a million broken vacuum cleaners. Hoovers all over the country are going on strike at the extra work pressure. I’m sure some entrepreneurial type will appear on Dragons’ Den next series with some impossibly over-valued business idea for all those trillions of elastic bands. But I can’t wait that long – I’m out – I’m loom-banded out. There I’ve said it…”yes, darling, I would love another ring – fishtail please, pink and purple…”