A recent health study has found…

English: Keeping your family active is the bes...

English: Keeping your family active is the best way to avoid obesity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I the only one who is not only bamboozled by but utterly sick of the plethora of medical/health-related news headlines with which we are bombarded on a daily basis. I decided to look back over the last 2 weeks and see exactly what I am supposed to be doing or not supposed to be doing if I were to follow the advice and findings of various reports and it is quite astounding how much tripe there is out there.

Firstly, let’s take the word of the moment: obesity.  This is undoubtedly an increasingly large (no pun intended) problem for this and future generations but it is this very subject which gives rise to some of the most ridiculous studies and conclusions. My favourite groundbreaking study, the results of which have been recently released, is that which comes to the startling conclusion that those living or working near to ‘clusters’ of takeaway outlets are more likely to eat unhealthy food and become obese.  No s*** Sherlock. How much time and money has been wasted in carrying out such an extraordinarily informative study? Another equally useful study of recent weeks concludes that the activity levels of a mother and her child are directly linked – i.e. the more physically active a mother is, the more active her child will be….wow, that is quite astounding.  Surely there can’t be a link between a mother who sits on her sofa watching daytime TV all day, only moving to switch channels and her equally lazy offspring whose ambitions extend to appearing on Jeremy Kyle.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news to those conducting this study but it does seem blindingly obvious to me that this would be the case. Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs springs to mind.

Apparently according to another study, childhood obesity is partly caused by strict parenting.  How convenient, yet another reason for us to pander to our children and to feel guilty for setting any boundaries.  So as not to appear strict, saying “Yes, darling, of course you can have another 6 packets of crisps and 2 cans of coke,” is clearly going to help prevent the obesity epidemic.

According to the newspapers this week, our 5 a day of fruit and vegetables is not enough and we should be aiming for 10 a day.  I can’t work out if that is one of those reverse psychology tricks that the nanny state is playing on us (after all it was April Fools Day this week) or whether this is a genuine piece of advice.  Perhaps by overstating the amount we should eat it will push us into increasing our intake and therefore move us towards actually achieving our 5 a day ( a bit like when I tell my husband that a party starts at 8pm when actually it starts at 9pm but as he is always late, we have got some chance of being on time if he believes me).  However, if the advice is genuine, I am already hyperventilating at the prospect of providing 50 portions of fruit and vegetables daily to my family of 5.

Other than obesity, the most oft reported ‘breakthrough’ studies seem to refer to exercise. Now I realise that doing exercise is a given (or at least in my case wearing sports clothing to mimic taking exercise) but no-one is able to agree on how much, what type and with what intensity.  Take two health headlines in the last week or so: aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age and jogging can be harmful if done for more than 2-3 hours a week.  As you can imagine, I have paid scant attention to the first as sadly I am so way past my 20s that protecting my brain is really not an option. Although what I am not sure is whether the study means that aerobic exercise is pointless in your 40s – I suspect not, but I can live in hope.  The second headline is music to my ears.  Not only is running, to my mind, the most boring exercise known to man (I realise that I have now alienated scores of you who are running-obsessed) but I have to admit to a feeling of smugness that all those people who have run religiously for hours every week and made me feel unfit and lazy could in fact being doing more harm than good. Exercise in moderation – always been my motto – although I don’t think my definition of moderation and some others would be commensurate .

These are only a small proportion of the findings reported in the press in the last few weeks. Clearly, many studies are extremely important and represent true medical and health progress.  However it seems to me that far too many are plainly ridiculous, with patently obvious conclusions that only serve to contribute to an already overwhelming degree of health anxiety amongst this generation.  In fact, for me, all this conflicting advice leaves me with no option but to ignore it all.  It is not really feasible for me to eat 10 portions of fruit whilst jogging (not too much) but not outside due to pollution from a Saharan dust storm and certainly not in the vicinity of a ‘cluster’ of takeaway outlets and be nice to my children (not strict in the least) all at the same time.

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How to spot a man over forty – the definitive guide

Porsche Boxster, a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel...

Porsche Boxster, a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel (RMR) drive sports car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about how to tell whether a woman is over 40.  But how do you tell if a man is over 40?  Easy, you say, he manifests all the signs of a mid-life crisis – he buys some ridiculous, utterly impractical 2-seater sports car, or worse a motor bike; he starts wearing a dodgy leather jacket and too-tight jeans; he flirts outrageously with girls half his age in the delusional belief that they find him attractive when in truth they find him pitiably sad.

These things may all be true or they may just be a cliché. It got me thinking however whether in fact there are some more subtle signs which herald the onset of the 40s in a man and I believe there are.  After much observation, here is my list of the signs of an impending mid-life crisis:

– Firstly, in one of Mother Nature’s more cruel jokes, men appear to lose the hair on their head and grow it elsewhere on the body. For some reason Mother Nature seems to think that men no longer need hair on their heads but instead need more hair on their backs and in their ears and noses.  I fail to see what biological reason this body hirsuteness has – perhaps it is just a sort of rough (bristly?) justice to compensate women for the decades of plucking, waxing and depilation that we have to endure. Note – the borrowing of a woman’s tweezers by a man or a sudden interest in waxing are common initial manifestations of the onset of increased body/nasal hair.

– Secondly, the onset of male hypochondria and the diminishment of the male immortality belief. In my experience this male hypochondria often stems from the over 40 health MOTs which many men undergo.  I wholeheartedly endorse such health checks but I strongly believe men should not be given access to any of the results unless absolutely necessary.  Why?  Because men who have never ever shown the remotest interest in health (believing in their immortality), the same men who dismiss all female health problems as either “something down there” or related to the “her time of the month”, suddenly become minutely interested in the details of their own health.  They pick through the smallest print of every blood test – “My phosphate level is slightly high – do you think this is serious, am I going to die?”.  In my opinion, men are best left blissfully unaware of such things, obviously with the exception of any serious illness, and only given information about their health on a need-to-know basis.

– Questioning immortality and insecurity about future health is what drives another sign of a man moving towards middle age – exercise.  I know that I am not one to speak as I frequently wear exercise kit as a way of vicariously exercising and making others believe I have exercised when I have not, but it seems men of a certain age have all the gear and absolutely no idea. They have lycra, expensive trainers and hi-vis clothing coming out of their (hairy?) ears but how often do they actually go out and exercise? Infrequent at most would be my guess.  Although, do note, there is a sizeable subset of men who after the age of 40 take exercise to extreme levels and start competing in iron man competitions and the like (you can spot these men by their eagerness to post race times etc on social networking sites).

– Another sign – falling asleep on the sofa almost every evening at a time that could not reasonably be called bedtime.   This falling asleep can happen almost immediately upon sitting down and is usually accompanied by noisy exhalations.  These narcoleptic tendencies often go hand in hand with the automatic denial the morning after that he fell asleep on the sofa the night before. Sometimes it only becomes undeniable when a man sits down to watch an episode of a programme (having slept through the previous episode) and asks “can you remember what happened in the last episode?” to which a woman replies “Yes thanks and so would you if you had been awake”.

– Watch an over 40s man’s face the next time he is told that a social engagement has been cancelled.  He will almost certainly say things like “What a shame – I was so looking forward to a huge night out” but look carefully at his face because the relief will be almost tangible, his words are just bravado.  The truth of it is that even the most hardened of male party animals secretly enjoys his nights in with a takeaway, a beer and the TV to watch (or sleep in front of…).  In fact, given the choice most over 40s men would rarely go out except for the odd night out with a few mates – the proverbial old man in the pub evening.

So there you have it – he may not buy some wildly inappropriate car or think he is impressing girls half his age but the signs will be there if you look.  The sad truth for men over 40 is that they have now entered the realm of dad-dancing-at-a-wedding and we should probably cut them a bit of slack as they come to terms with all that represents.  It cannot be easy for the male ego to admit that he is not the man he was at 21 and actually pottering around the garden centre of an afternoon is not all that bad…

Dads – they’re grrrrrrrreat….

Frosties de Kellog's, poderosa energía

Frosties de Kellog’s, poderosa energía (Photo credit: frosklis)

Forget Tiger Mums, make way for Tiger Dads.  Forget Tony “They’re Grrrrrrreat” Tiger of Frosties fame, I’m talking about survival of the fittest; who is the King of the Tigers?

Tiger Mums have been getting a lot of negative press recently and to be honest, I think most of it is justified.  This is probably because Tiger Mums make me feel small part inadequate, small part lazy and most part cross.  We all want the best for our children and we all feel proud and rather over-excited when they are successful at something – we have to stop ourselves shouting out – ‘that’s my little Johnny, yes, over there, the one who is so so so good at bla bla bla”. However, putting my children forward for MENSA at age 2, insisting on distinction in grade 8 piano by the age of 4, expecting them to be national squad players in at least 6 sports by the age of 10 is just not my thing.  Anyway, the genes don’t look good for my children – forget MENSA, I can hardly remember my name these days; I can only just about play Chopsticks despite learning the piano for ten years and as for sport, the only running I do now is a bath at the end of the day.

So what about Dads?  Unlike women who often tend to try and hide their “tiger” tendencies – pretending to be all laid back whilst subjecting their children to hour upon hour of extra coaching on the quiet – their little secret – most men are the absolute opposite.  They are competitive and they don’t care who knows it and they are utterly incapable of hiding it.

I am not suggesting that all women are like this, or all men are like that – that’s far too simplistic .  Of course, there are men out there who are pushing their children to extremes – true Tiger Dads – we’ve all read about them – just as there are lots of women who are competitive for their children without being obsessional. However, just as often little boys behave differently to little girls, the same tendencies are played out in adulthood in relation to their children. Actually most men are not really Tiger Dads, just typical Dads.

Take a kids’ cricket match as an example. Forget the competition between the boys playing – obviously that’s there and anyway a bit of competition is healthy.  No, look at the Dads, listen to the Dads.  It is as if they have regressed in age by about 30 years and our living out their former competitive glories through their sons. Like Father, like Son. There is humour and ribbing and an awful lot of chat (and that applies to both the boys and their fathers!)

So why is it that the Tiger Mums get the negative press whereas the Dads largely slip beneath the radar, their competitiveness laughed at and even expected?  Well, I think it is because the Dads’ competitive nature is so much more palatable to the observer – they are very open about it; they take it seriously but there is still much lighthearted banter amongst themselves.  They behave in some ways like the children they are watching – over-excited and noisily competitive – but it feels very natural and not obsessive in the way Tiger Mums are so often portrayed to be.

This sort of competition is healthy.  One of my largest problems with schools and children’s activities in the UK today is this overbearing nannying of our children so that we protect them from ever losing at anything, from ever being disappointed.  Life is not like that and our kids need to experience the reality of life from early on in a controlled and nurturing environment otherwise they are going to have one large shock when they are grown-up and out there in the real world.

We need to teach our children that you win some, you lose some.  We need to teach them that a degree of competition is healthy and there will be a winner and a loser.  We have to stop giving every child a medal just so that no-one is singled out as being successful.  A confident and balanced child will learn in childhood that they can’t be number 1 at everything, that they will come second, third or whatever and that is just the way it is.  They will be secure enough in their own abilities to be able to shrug off the disappointments but also enjoy their successes.  Success has become a dirty word and it shouldn’t be.  It should be something to be celebrated.

So let these “Tiger Dads” be.  I for one find them very amusing and very unthreatening.  Their competitiveness is not unappealing but rather endearing.  They just want their kids to do well and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s entirely normal.  Of course, there are lots of mothers out there who have got the balance just right too. But true Tiger Mums and true Tiger Dads take note, competition is healthy, obsessional pushing is not.

The Jeans Diet

English: Mannequins wearing jeans in Sânnicola...

Finally we are having some good weather here in the UK…don’t get excited, the rain is returning tomorrow.  It seems to me that David Cameron et al are missing a trick here.  When you have just been trounced in the local elections, why not just go for a really cheap but effective publicity stunt – make today a spontaneous bank holiday.  After all we have fewer bank holidays than most other countries and let’s face it, the sun only makes the odd rare appearance in the UK of late. I am not suggesting that we are fickle voters, but an extra bank holiday in the sun might just get a few more people off their politically apathetic behinds.

Anyway, it’s not like me to get political, so let’s return to much more important matters  – not matters of state but matters of weight.

When I was in my twenties, I could eat anything…and I mean anything, as often as I like and in whatever quantities I liked and I never put on an ounce. All to do with metabolism apparently.  I would happily eat an entire box of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers (a personal favourite) in one sitting.  Now, even if I look at a chocolate finger, I can feeling it pointing accusingly at me and saying, “go on, eat me, I dare you,  you know you can’t just eat one and even if you manage to stop at 3 or 4, you will immediately gain a pound”.

It doesn’t seem fair that as well as having to deal with the injustices of ageing, we also have to deal with a slowing metabolism. For women, this weight likes to sit around the waist sort of like those rubber rings you had for swimming as a child.  Apparently, we’ve got to build up our cores (which incidentally, biologically did not exist before the year 2000). Well, I’m sorry but my core is less steel and more jelly and I don’t believe that will ever change.  My theory is that anyone born before 2000 is at a distinct disadvantage in all this core business as we were born without the genetic modification required to have a core.  Having a core will be seen in generations to come as a part of the evolution process and I was very much born pre-core.

My problem is that since I don’t even have the discipline to stop myself having two large slices of swiss roll (at 9pm last night), how am I ever going to have the discipline to follow a diet. In any case, most diets are so flipping complicated, you need a degree in nutrition to follow them.  Also these diets always tell you to have one day off to eat whatever you like.  The problem is that whenever I read about celebrities on diets, what they eat on the day off (the naughty day) is usually what I would be eating on the diet days – they allowed themselves a piece of bread…shock horror.

So I have decided a new approach is necessary.  As my husband said yesterday, I am 40 and I have had three children, so just accept that I am not going to look like I am 21 ever again.  OK so that’s not rocket science (my eldest son’s favourite expression at the moment) but it is completely true.

We women stress so much about weight, do men?  I don’t see many men calorie counting obsessively, or eating quinoa (or whatever that stuff is) or substituting beef mince for quorn (frankly, a crime against bolognaise in my book).  I am not suggesting that I am going to go back to eating a whole box of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers in one sitting (tempting as it is) but nor am I going to starve myself for the next 20 years in an attempt to get down to some magical weight that is totally unrealistic.  Anyway, until someone invents a low calorie white wine which doesn’t taste like rats’ p***, then I haven’t got a chance in hell – life is too short to give up all the pleasures.

One practical thing I have done to put my new attitude to the test is that I went through all my jeans (I have (or rather had) more pairs than the average Levis shop) and threw out all the impossibly small pairs that I really am never ever going to get into again.  I did the knee test – i.e. if I had trouble getting the first leg above the knee without cutting off the circulation, out the pair went. Very therapeutic. The jeans diet – cut out all the pairs you will never wear again. Slim down your wardrobe rather than yourself. Don’t cut out all the foods you love, just cut out all the jeans that will never ever fit you again.  Much simpler and I can highly recommend it.

Unsung Heroes

Perranporth - best foot forward

Perranporth – best foot forward (Photo credit: Ruth Flickr)

Today I want to give shout out for three unsung heroes who day in, day out, fulfil professional obligations which go far and beyond the call of duty.

Of course it is only right that we should praise our firemen, policemen, nurses, doctors etc for all the sterling work they do every day to ensure our safety and good health.  However, I want to highlight three professions which remain under the praise radar but for which as far as I am concerned being in the line of fire is all in a day’s work: chiropodists, children’s party entertainers and dental hygienists.

Now I actually quite like my feet as body parts go – not that I spend much time contemplating their loveliness.  However, as much as I like my own feet, I can categorically say that I don’t like anyone else’s feet and that there are a lot of feet out there which could have their own starring role in a horror movie (“Psych -toe”, “The Toe -men”. “The Exorblist(er)”.  This brings me to the very underrated occupation of chiropody.  These people selflessly put themselves in close proximity to other people’s feet every hour of every day.  They not only have to look at other people’s feet but they have to touch them too.  In fact it is a job with sensory overload – seeing, touching, smelling (but not tasting – thank god for small mercies!). Imagine a job where bunions, verrucas, and ingrowing toenails are your bread and butter (as it were).  These are the unsung heroes that keep the nation on its feet.

I guess dental hygienists fall into a similar bracket in some ways – looking after the health of a nation.  There are some differences though which perhaps make them even more heroic than our chiropodists.  Firstly, whereas a chiropodist might come across a well-kept pair of feet may be once a day, I do not believe that one could ever say that the mouth and teeth of anyone over 35 is pleasant to survey.  Secondly, although chiropodists do inflict a level of pain which may make a visit a little uncomfortable, no-one likes going to the dental hygienist.  How depressing it must be to be viewed with such horror and fear by everyone you see, knowing that you will almost certainly encounter blood, shrieks and swearing at every appointment.  But dental hygienists are tough types – they are working for the higher good of mankind (or at least for their teeth).  Yes, they too are, in my opinion, unsung heroes.

So to my third group of people – children’s party entertainers.  My eldest son had his birthday party last weekend and all things considered it was a bearable affair – definitely better than two years ago which nearly resulted in an extended stay in The Priory for his mother.  The thing is I only have to suffer the birthday party once a year – I get 364 recovery days in between parties.  Not so the children’s party entertainer.  No, these courageous people willingly put themselves in a room of up to 30 children every single day and attempt at best to entertain them, at worst to maintain some semblance of control.  Have you ever encountered a more unappreciative audience than a bunch of kids? How on earth do they put up with the noise levels? How do they pretend to be happy the whole time?  How do they manage to pretend for 2 hours that even the most charmless children are a joy to be with?  I take my hat off to them – this is a herculean task which they carry out uncomplainingly and for the most part dressed in ridiculous costumes.

So let’s hear a bit shout for my unsung heroes of the day.  I’m sure there are many other unsung heroes out there – do let me know who your unsung heroes are.

I think, therefore I am…

Mr Blobby (song)

Mr Blobby (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daughter (age 3, 6am): “Mummy, I need some Calpol ‘cos I’ve got a tummy ache.”

Me (age 40, one eye open, hangover pending): “Calpol is not for tummy aches, it’s for temperatures and headaches.”

Daughter: “Well, my tummy has got a headache.”

Me: silent, unable to counter “child logic”.

There is something about a child’s impeccable logic which makes it very difficult to argue against.  Of course, it is actually not logical at all but it is the conviction with which it is delivered and its ability to catch you totally unawares that makes it impossible to dispute.

It is exchanges such as this which make you realise that how children see the world is so different to how we see it.  There is no sense of responsibility, no mistrust, no cynicism, no world-weariness to mould a child’s reactions. They say it how it is, how they see it. Many times when my children say something surprising, it makes me yearn to be a child again.  It has always seemed very unfair to me that as adults we have largely forgotten those early days of childhood.  It is ironic that our best days are confined to the deepest inaccessible recesses of our memory. We get sudden jolts of that wonderful childhood excitement and wonder.  For me, it is the magic of Christmas which catapults me straight back into my childhood. It is almost a physical feeling as you see the world through your children’s eyes.

The simplicity of a child’s thought process is so clear and free from all the forces that affect our adult thought processes. Sometimes, their comments seem to be so left field but in their simplicity they reveal so much about the workings of a child’s mind.

My middle son asked me the other day “How did God make himself?”. I have to admit to being totally unprepared for this philosophical question, coming as it did in that 10 minute window of hell which is the mad scramble to get on the school run.  It struck me as very interesting that my 6 year old son was pondering such deep questions at a time when I was picking up Shreddies from under my daughter’s chair and wondering whether I could get away with that good old favourite “pasta pesto” for the kids’ dinner that evening. I’m afraid I batted his question away with a “great question, I’ll have to give that some thought” – hoping to buy myself some time in which at best he would totally forget ever having asked the question and at worst I would have had time to dig out my bluffer’s guide to philosophy of religion.

Children do have a knack of asking or saying the most unexpected things at the most inopportune moments.  I remember when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my daughter and I was heaving myself up the hill home from the shops with my sons (no doubt again pondering whether “pasta pesto” for the third time this week was tantamount to neglect) my elder son suddenly stopped and said, “When the baby is born, will it come out of your mouth?”.  What do you say?  Here I am, just minding my own business, wobbling up the hill like “Mr Blobby” (without the yellow spots) blissfully unaware that my son is contemplating the finer intricacies of the birthing process.  I admired his logic but this was not the time for a full on discussion about giving birth which would inevitably lead on to the “how did the baby get there in the first place” conversation.  I think I responded with a “It’s not quite like that, but not far off” sort of reply.  In normal circumstances this would have been woefully inadequate but fortunately he had been distracted by the fact that his brother had stepped in dog poo which of course he found hysterically amusing and I found painfully unamusing as bending down to remove said dog poo, required a feat of almost impossible balance and acrobatic nature totally unsuited to someone in the late stages of pregnancy.  Although I have to admit to being marginally grateful for whoever’s dog it was that chose to open its bowels on the pavement just there as it saved me from a complicated conversation with my son.

Despite the difficulties which these questions sometimes present, I absolutely love the randomness of their asking. Amongst the relentless routines and order of bringing up small children, there is something hugely refreshing and constantly surprising about the things they say and ask. The way they view the world is so unpredictable and we should celebrate this short period of their lives when they are not constrained by responsibility, awareness or cynicism.  It is through our child’s thinking that we get glimpses of a long-forgotten childhood, of that very special time before awareness creeps in and permeates our thought processes and our responses to the world around us.

Those Two Old Friends – Anxiety and Fear

After Dark: Fear

After Dark: Fear (Photo credit: the_exploratorium)

Let me introduce you to two of my closest, long-standing and most loyal “friends”: fear and anxiety. We’ve been “friends” for so many years, I’ve lost count. Like all friendships we have had our ups and downs – sometimes almost unbearably close, other times we have been apart for lengthy periods of time.  In their absence, I have thrived, come out from their shadow.  As comfortable as I think I feel in their presence, fortunately I do have a wide group of other friends which counter their hold over me: humour, a sense of fun (and the ridiculous), determination and happiness.

I know there are millions of us out there who count these two amongst our nearest and (not so) dearest.  Over the years, I have come to understand that it is these two which actually allow me to experience and appreciate their opposites in sharp relief. They have certainly shaped me, but will never define me.  They have given me the ability to empathise with, sympathise with and understand others.  I am a more rounded person because of them.

Why am I telling you all this? Partly, I guess, because usually my writing is observational and light-hearted but not everything I observe is like this, life is more complicated, and partly in response to an article I read in The Times at the weekend about how you can deal with a child who worries incessantly, who is anxious, unable to relax.  Not only did I recognise myself as that child, but also similar traits in my own children – particularly my eldest.  It got me thinking…is this a trait peculiar to eldest children?  Does that burden of responsibility that the eldest feels from such an early age allow a burgeoning relationship with anxiety and fear which to different degrees stay with you through childhood and adulthood?

I am not just talking about obvious childhood fears, like monsters under the bed (although needless to say I had an veritable zoo under my bed as a child – snakes, sharks, lions, tigers – you name it, they were there – along with the whole cast of Ghostbusters).  No, I am talking about those more intangible fears – fear of failure, fear of not living up to expectation (largely self-afflicted), fear of the unknown, fear about taking risks.

In my experience, the second child, without the burden of forging the way like the eldest, feels a sense of freedom from responsibility and a freedom to take risks, throw caution to the wind, unencumbered by fear and anxiety.  This is, of course, not to say that fear and anxiety are solely the preserve of the eldest child but in my experience, the eldest is far more cautious and less willing to take risks, more concerned about failure and the “what ifs”.

It will come as no surprise then to you that I am the eldest of three children. My greatest wish for my children is that they do not allow my old “friends”, fear and anxiety, to determine their path in life. To that end, I try very hard not to allow my “friends” to stay in my house very often, especially when the kids are around.

Just because something is familiar, it does not mean it is healthy or not to be challenged.  The old adage of “familiarity breeds contempt” is certainly true as far as my old “friends” are concerned and I am finding as I get older (and wiser?) that I am moving away from this circle of “friends” and embracing my new friends – happiness, laughter and joy – much more.  Now, I’m 40, I am also ready to discover new friendships – success (as I see it) and fulfilment of potential.

I have realised over the year, that just because these two hanger-ons are familiar, that does not equate with being comfortable.  Fear and anxiety are largely self-fabricated and built on no real foundations, just years of being allowed to co-exist.  There is no real substance to them, you can just push them away if you really try. Fear and anxiety in a small measure are part of the human condition but you shouldn’t let them be your “friends”.  Real friends make you feel good about yourself, boost you, laugh with you, cry with you and support you.  Fear and anxiety are impostors – see them for what they really are.  Stand up to them and watch them fade.  Well, that’s my experience and that’s what I shall be telling my children.