holding on to innocence

It’s the way the bag bounces on her back

as she runs the alley to school.

Late again, but determined today

to stick to all the rules.

I don’t get it right all the time –

if ever. Yet she forgives me with her hand

that reaches out to curl around mine

before she sinks to dreaming land.

It’s the smile she saves to seek me out

when she wins her latest Gold.

It’s the hug she gets, win or lose,

for being so brave and bold.

It’s the trust she has in her big round eyes

that I’ll treasure in my box.

She’s about to grow, to become her own.

For now, she truly rocks.

A poem for day four of NaPoWriMo: love without saying love

a sense of swimming

Up my nose, the chlorine sticks its doses:

like a spell, it lulls me and it woos me.

Through my eyes, her swimmers’ arms balletic:

elbows up, calves strong, her heart is centric.

To my ears she swishes through the blueness:

slicing splash, swishing aim, fingers’ trueness.

This poem is for Day 17 of NaPoWriMo, challenging me to write about three of the senses.

this little light that shines…

I feel so raw

when my girl gets called

a loser.

I think so fast

when my love for her

is tossed

in the net of all their taunts.

They’re bigger than her.

So what?

They swagger, they sway

in her face

to stop her winning game.

They’d like to blow right out her light

a candle snuffed before its prime.

Yet in her heart she feels

some bright

that shines way beyond:

oh yes. She’ll have her time.

the woe of the winning heart

I win a race. I achieve something great.

Yet the girls in the playground

mock me til I cry and I deflate.

What’s wrong with putting my all

into a sprint I really meant? Yet I bow and say

I’m sorry to the losers who cajole.

Can’t we all be equal partners in the race

of life and love? Or is losing just so shameful

that to want to win is a self-centred disgrace?

A poem for a happy tear

My girl always checks

for tear-stained flecks

on my middle-aged cheeks.

They don’t play hide and seek,

because those tears that fall

don’t make me feel small.

They’re not drops of doom

on a melancholy costume.

There are two types of tears:

one regrets time; one gains years.

The first cries for loss of self,

the second cheers for spiritual wealth.

So when I see my little girl swim,

my happy tears fill to the brim,

because she’s doing what she came here to do.

So I leave bitter tears for others to rue.

A poem for a mummy i knew

A mummy I knew had a cute little girl,

Always acting good, not rocking her world.

A mummy I knew was busy as hell

Her little girl in front of the TV did dwell.

A mummy I knew always checked her phone

Day or night, under her pillow it droned.

A mummy I knew stressed all around.

Her heart a deep freeze, her forehead a frown.

A mummy I knew woke up to what she’d lost.

Her little girl was growing up fast.

One last chance to melt the frost?

A poem: goodbye to all things pink

inktuition pink

There was a time when pink was the shade

For skirts and shoes, bags and braids.

From the palest of rose to a magenta hue

Her world was a sugarplum peek-a-boo.

But princesses, fairies, fluffs and frills

Are no longer the ways she gets her thrills.

I blinked. She grew. Did I miss a trick?

Oh, those pink days just went by too quick.

Can mindfulness with our children prevent parenthood regrets?

The biggest regret of parents is not spending enough time with their kids when they were young. They regret working too much, not appreciating that their children would grow up in a flash, not taking enough photos and not going on holiday enough with them. They also regretted worrying about the little things and not letting themselves go and enjoy the moment. That’s according to a survey commissioned by Huggies Little Swimmers nappy brand and published in the Daily Mail.

Mindful of how two-thirds of parents would do things differently if they could, I was more determined than ever to enjoy a half-term break with my eight-year-old daughter mindfully and fully. While she is still young and wanting to play with me.

I was more mindful on holiday with my daughter. With special moments, you either use them or lose them. 

I resolved to pay full attention to how many dives, handstands and lengths she did in the pool (instead of surreptitiously reading my book while pretending to watch her). I applauded when she came down the scariest of scary water slides. And I cheered when she was chosen to go on stage to take part in a tongue-twister competition. I savoured every minute, took as many photos as possible, and I can say I had no regrets about being fully present in the here and now.

Because I, like the parents in the survey, can feel time slipping through my fingers. I blinked and my baby is suddenly nearly as tall as me, and has picked up skills in persuasion, manipulation and negotiation. Each moment I spend with her is tinged with the reminder that this moment won’t come again. And there will be a time when moments like this don’t happen again.

So, I have no regrets about reading that article as a reminder to myself to be mindful. To remember that the human existential condition is such that we only have now. We can either live it fully or let it slip away unnoticed until we feel sad when we spot it in the rear-view mirror.

And the one main regret I certainly don’t have from my weekend away is my decision NOT to go down that scary slide.

How to make reading a treat, not a chore, for children

Allowing children to read ‘cool’ books rather than stiff old tomes the authorities think they should be ploughing through is the key to stimulating a creative love of reading. That’s according to a wonderful little article in the Evening Standard, Forget Austen, there are no explosions, which quotes Steven Moffat, the writer behind successful TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Give a child a ‘cool’ book and she’ll devour it. Boring books get left on the shelf. (Pic: istockphoto.com)

He says: “We should give [children] really cool books that they think are exciting. It doesn’t matter if they are good books as long as they read. Reading makes you better at English. Reading a lot makes you want to read better books.”

He’s so right. I’m a professional writer now who can’t bear to flirt with badly written fiction. Life is far too short for that, and my bookshelves are stuffed with books I’d much rather commit to. However, as a 10-year-old child, I devoured just about every Continue reading