Tuesday, 13 March 2012

On getting a grip and worrying about narrow horizons

On balance, I think I am coping reasonably well with the fact that neither of my children’s cakes were even placed in the fair trade cake competition.
To be a bit miffed that the cakes weren’t even tasted in the end, but judged on ‘smell’ and appearance, would be childish. To suggest that this smacks of shifting the goal posts, particularly as the exhortation to submit a cake in the first place specifically said that the cakes would be returned less one small piece for tasting, would sound like a case of bad loser. To suggest that only a weak woman would balk at the prospect of tasting some 60+ (mainly chocolate) cakes (I mean come on – isn’t that what we live for? Cake?? Pour yourself a cup of tea and rise up to the challenge, sister) would make me sound bitter and twisted. To venture that, if all they were going to judge in the end was the decoration, perhaps they could have MADE THAT CLEAR AT THE OUTSET makes me sound plain pathetic.

Pink seemed fairly content that she’d received a certificate for taking part. “Well, Mummy,” she told me “We’re all winners because we all had lovely cake to eat”. Wise words indeed from my nearly-6 year old. I could learn a lot from her. I shall have to content myself with the fact that I’ve never pretended to be anything other than a ‘substance over form’ kinda gal and get over it. I mean come on – people are dying in Syria for no good reason, and I’m getting worked up about a school cake competition. Get a grip woman.

I do think it’s interesting though, how narrow my horizons have become since having children. How did that Big Issue buying, Green voting, Shelter supporting European politics student turned Employment lawyer turn into the kind of woman who gets annoyed because her kids didn’t win a cake competition?  Instead of getting to the point of raging about the injustice of world poverty, oppression and the rest of the general awfulness, I don’t get beyond dissolving into tears at the images of starving children. More to the point, how am I ever going to regain an adequate intellectual handle on domestic politics, let alone world affairs - if I cry at the Muppet movie (but before you say anything, let me make it quite clear that no I did NOT cry at losing the cake competition).
Sure, I have a basic grasp of what’s going on in the world, but any real understanding I might pretend to have stops circa November 2003. These days, I buy the Guardian on a Saturday, read the magazine and, during the winter months at least, catch up on the rest of the week’s news as I roll the sections up to light the wood burners. If I’m honest, it’s a bit more hit and miss during the summer months. I try to watch the 10 O’clock news, but more often than not, as soon as the headlines have finished, the dog usually makes an appearance, and starts insisting in his own special way (head on knee, pawing at the sofa) that it’s time for his biscuits. That, or I am glazing over with cross-eyed tiredness sewing on buttons, cub or rainbow badges or turning up hems – if not openly snoring  (although now the kids are slightly older, I am finding that I am sleeping less on the sofa). Broadening my horizons these days is more likely to involve cooking something Asian or reading a book that I wouldn’t have chosen myself for book club.

It does matter to me, all this (no, not the cake competition – the other stuff). I want my children to grow up being aware that life doesn’t revolve around our own little corner of Hampshire, that for every time they think it’s not fair that they can’t watch TV all day on a Saturday there’s some child (millions in fact) who doesn’t even have enough food to eat, let alone TV to watch – but where to start? Answers on a post card please.


  1. I think your outlook on life changes when you have children. All of a sudden you have people who are completely reliant on everything you do. I'd be terrified by the parent that managed to keep their horizons wide!

  2. You have a wise almost-6 year old. Lol at your use of the Guardian. Personally, I actively hide from the News but it seems to find me anyway :(


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