My name is Rebecca and it’s been 3 days since I last watched an episode of Daredevil…

I’m seriously considering starting a support group called “I’ve watched all the episodes of Daredevil and now I don’t know what to do with my life- help me!” Member count so far: just me, it seems…

Seriously though, it is SO GOOD. I can hardly be blamed for greedily racing through every single one of the 13 episodes…but whyyyy oh why did I do it?! Why didn’t I pace myself more?! Don’t I have ANY willpower?! (Clearly, no.)

Here’s what I’m going to miss:

1. Rosario Dawson AND HER HAIR which I am seriously considering attempting to copy…

2. Being genuinely terrified of Fisk. And loving how developed he is as a character, rather than just being ‘The Bad Guy’

3. Deluding myself that were I ever to lose one of my senses I would also be instantly transformed into a Bad Ass Ninja Vigilante and fantasising about Kicking Some Serious Ass.

4. The casting. Everyone in it plays their roles BRILLIANTLY.

5. The fact that this is one of a very small number of shows I have watched that portrays semi-realistic healing times for injuries. Don’t get me wrong, if a film or tv show is very good and drags me in to the story then I am willing to suspend disbelief to a certain extent, but the nurse in me does get a bit annoyed when massive internal/external injuries and/or illness is brushed aside after just one episode because it doesn’t sit with the storyline. If there’s nothing supernatural at play and you haven’t skipped ahead in time weeks and weeks then your characters SHOULD be limping and popping painkillers, or at least laying off the beatings and wincing at sudden movement!

6. Charlie Cox’s stubbly jawline. Obvs.

7. Chris’s “3000% done with me” face that he makes whenever I randomly shriek and grab him during a particularly tense moment

8. Matt and Foggy’s friendship flashbacks- just ‚ô°

9. Knowing what I am doing with my evening every single evening without needing to think about it.

10. Yeah, ok, basically everything. ALL OF IT!

I need more now please Netflix! MOOOOOOAR! Do it now! Thankyouplease ūüôā

P.S. Note to self: also file this blog post under-

“Reasons I have failed to meet my Camp NaNoWriMo word count”

and

“Things I have been doing to pass the time until our first foster baby is in placement”

and

“Evidence I have no self restraint”

Does our son look like a girl (and does it matter)?

I started writing a blog post and, not for the first time, during the writing of it I realised that what I actually wanted to say, what needed saying, was not what I had originally intended to say, so once again have ended up writing something that bears little resemblance to my original idea, but really, what else is new?!

RudyAfterTheDentist

First of all, here’s the context for this blog post: today we made¬†our bi-annual trip to the dentist, where not for the first time in his life (and I assume not for the last either) our 3 and a half year old son was persistently referred to using feminine pronouns by the reception staff.

This is a thing that happens a lot, so much so that it really elicits a reaction from me anymore. ¬†Sometimes I correct the person/people in question, but I have to say that a lot of the time, I can’t be bothered. ¬†The trouble with saying “ACTUALLY, he’s a boy” is that:

a. People are embarrassed and apologetic. ¬†I feel like I’m being an arsehole pointing out their mistake. ¬†They are usually flustered and basically no one wins.

b. Their (usually emphatic) apology suggests that to be mistaken for a girl (or indeed, be a girl) is in someway derogatory, or inferior to being recognised as male and no amount of “really it’s fine”s can seem to¬†stem their horror or prevent that message reaching my children’s ears. ¬†This is clearly not something I believe because…well…uh…I am a girl myself. ¬†And don’t see “looking like a girl” (whether or not you identify as one) as an insult. ¬†In fact really, when someone says “Oh, but he looks like a girl” they are just saying “I applied my socially constructed ideas of gender to your appearance and one or more criteria met what I imagine a female to look like” That’s not really an insult is it?!

The trouble with NOT correcting people is that:

a. If we aren’t leaving immediately, they may just keep going ON AND ON, and eventually his 5 year old brother will likely correct them and then they’ll be EVEN MORE flustered and also be looking at me like “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING?”

b. I kind of want to teach my kids that if someone gets something wrong you can call them on it, even if it’s an adult, and this is one of those occasions where I could do that, except it feels like the wrong one to use as an example but there aren’t many other instances when I can demonstrate it?!

So, you see my dilemma.

This is a thing that happened at Halloween a couple of years ago when we went trick or treating:

spiders

Stranger: “Oh look a spider! And what is your baby sister dressed as?”

(Then) 3 year old: *looks around in confusion for baby sister he wasn’t aware he had*

Me (eventually): “It’s his little brother.”

Stranger: “Oh I’m so sorry! ¬†I couldn’t see him properly in his buggy/costume/the dark”

Me: “It’s fine, please don’t worry about it”

Stranger: *showers the kids with sweets and shuts the door really quickly*

I genuinely don’t care that people think he is a girl, and seemingly, he doesn’t either. ¬†I reckon half the time he’s oblivious (given as he’s only just learning about pronouns himself anyway) and the other half of the time he’s just *meh*. ¬†A couple of weeks ago, when accosted by some girls in the school playground who were admiring his hair, he was outright asked if he was a girl by them and he said “yes”. ¬†I think more to be agreeable than because he identifies as one, but his older brother thought it was hilarious and immediately ran over to tell me all about it.

His brother, you see DOES care if people mistake his brother for a girl. ¬†Because he is FIVE and since starting school he is all about THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A BOY AND THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A GIRL AND THERE ARE NO GREY AREAS. ¬†This sudden hatred for all things “girly” and indeed, even the identification of what is girly, has been very sudden and without mercy and is already driving me absolutely crazy. ¬†I can’t believe the difference that school socialisation has made to his concept of gender and identity within the space of 6 months.

As for his Dad, I wouldn’t say he is ‘bothered’ if people mistake his youngest son for a boy, but he has on more than one occasion suggested a haircut as the solution. ¬†Something I disagree with because it surely isn’t our job (or his) to bow to societal expectations of appearance just to make it easier for people to correctly identify our kids gender when there’s actually no need for them to do in the first place?

And that, is where my issue lies, I think. ¬†In the need for people to assign him to one of the gender binaries immediately on coming into contact with him. ¬†Like they can’t interact with him as a human until they know if he is male or female.

He¬†is three and a half. ¬†He had short hair last year (at his request, he was keen to get a “big boy’s haircut” like his brother and his Dad at the hairdressers) but has since declared he wants me to only cut the front of it (so he can see where he is going) and leave the back of it long (which I have done). ¬†He mostly wears traditionally boy-ish clothes, i.e. lots of blue, and shades of mud, emblazoned with superheroes or monsters or dinosaurs. ¬†He is shy around strangers but rambunctious around those he knows well. ¬†He can usually be found in a puddle, or halfway up a climbing frame (upside down). ¬†He also loves watching Frozen and Tangled and The Little Mermaid (oh my god, The Little Mermaid, 3,000 x a week on repeat) ¬†He’s very affectionate (much more so than his older brother who is all “GEROFF ME” when you try to cuddle him). ¬†His two best friends outside of nursery are girls, but at nursery he seems to mostly play with the other boys (one or two in particular who he is constantly mentioning by name).

He is who he is.  Just like I am who I am.

If you see him scaling a fence in his Batman wellies with his golden ringlets and think he’s a she, then on one level I’m glad¬†that you don’t immediately think “must be a boy because a girl wouldn’t do/wear that” but on another level- really wouldn’t it better if we all just asked?

I mean, in the wider sense, if we didn’t spend entire bus journeys staring at someone down the aisle from us thinking ‘BUT REALLY IS THAT PERSON MALE OR FEMALE” driving ourselves crazy speculating and (presumably) making the individual in question feel uncomfortable, but just decided that since we don’t know them and they don’t know us, it isn’t in fact any of our business and what difference does it make to us anyway? ¬†And then, when we are actually¬†interacting with someone whose gender we’re not sure of, maybe just ask them which pronouns they’d prefer and take their word for it, since…well…they would know, being themselves and all?

Basically, when I first started writing this blog post, my instinct was to go off and google famous males with blonde wavy hair and litter the post with those images in a SEE AND NO ONE IS QUESTIONING THEIR MASCULINITY sort of way:

heath ledger Chris Hemsworth Brad Pitt

and it was during this (admittedly quite pleasant, but a little bittersweet, because: Heath Ledger) distraction that I realised that my approach was all wrong. ¬†I was trying to defend my son against being called “a girl” because of his hair¬†when actually

a. Being called “a girl” doesn’t bother him right now, so he doesn’t require my ‘defence’ on this blog, IRL, or indeed anywhere

b. The problem is not that people think he’s a girl because of his hair, the problem is that people think outward appearance is indicative of identity and/or worth.

So then I decided instead to write out a list of things I wanted our sons to know:

  1. You can be male and be masculine and have long hair
  2. You can be male and be feminine and have long hair
  3. You can actually have any kind of hair you want
  4. You can actually be whoever you want

So then I wrote:

“You can be whatever the fuck you want to be, identify with any gender, or consider yourself gender fluid, and have whatever the hell hair you like or none at all, and really it’s no one’s business but your own and it’s your choice which parts of your identity and body you share and who with and when and actually this blog post is spiralling out of control….argh.”

Does our son look like a girl?

I don’t think so.

Does it matter?

No.

Should I correct people when they mistake him for one?

I still don’t know.

So if anyone has any answers (or painkillers, since I have now given myself quite the headache thinking this all through) then please let me know!

The Outcast

April’s book from my list of books to re-read this year was The Outcast by Sadie Jones and I totally cheated and read it early because I was stuck in a book rut and just itching to read this one again- oops! ¬†It does seem rather fitting though because a couple of days later¬†I heard (via twitter) that it has been adapted for TV and is going to be shown on the BBC later this year, which I’m very excited about. ¬†So I think you should all GO READ THE BOOK RIGHT NOW before it is, so you can be blown away by it twice ūüėČ

theoutcast

Like The Gargoyle, and The Book Thief, two of the other three books I’ve re-read so far this year, it was only my second time reading The Outcast. ¬†I initially came across it totally by accident, having got it as a swap a few years ago from Read It Swap It.¬† In fact I¬†found this little slip of paper inside it this time and ended up using it as a makeshift bookmark:

swap

I can’t actually remember the book I swapped it for but I am so glad I did, whatever it was. ¬†The Outcast had me totally hooked from the first page. ¬†The first time I finished it in¬†two days, this time it took just one, but to be fair I was recovering from a vomiting bug this time, so spent the entire day in the bath/bed, which definitely helped.

The atmosphere in the book is so suffocating and the pacing so tense that putting it down even for a bathroom break or to get a drink feels a bit like coming up for a gulp of air after being submerged under water, but then willingly sticking your head back¬†in. ¬†Which actually, if you read the book, you’ll see is a rather fitting metaphor.

So,¬†you’re probably wondering what it’s actually about?

Essentially, it’s the story of Lewis. a young boy coming of age in the stifling decade of the 1950’s.

Now, when I first read this book I was going on and on at Chris for days afterwards about how good it was and when I told him when it was set¬†he dismissed it immediately, which to be fair didn’t exactly surprise me because I knew that would be his reaction BUT I still feel sad for him now because man, is he missing out. ¬†So I hope no one else lets the era¬†put them off. ¬†It¬†does play a huge role in the storyline- with his father coming home from the war when he’s a young boy and the social expectations of the time a constant nagging force in his life, and god just the unbearably repressed atmosphere- arrgghhh, even thinking about it makes me tense, but like- in a good way, I think?! ¬†Seriously, this is one of those books where I get just so incredibly wound-up on behalf of the main character that I’m sure it can’t be good for my health, but it sucks you in so wonderfully, that you’re somehow wooed and enraged at the same time.

When I said it’s the story of Lewis- yes it is, but it’s also the story of his parents, and neighbours and about the effects of tragedy and grief and misunderstanding, the varying ways people cope (or not) and the importance of love and acceptance.

I don’t want to give too much away so won’t tell you all the things I love about the book but I will say that one thing I personally particularly liked¬†is the way it handles the issue of self harm. ¬†It isn’t trotted out for shock value (although taking a blade to your own skin is never not shocking, even when you’re the one doing it) and it isn’t given sole-focus in the storyline from that point forward, but is a thing that happens- a thing that he sometimes does, that he feels mixed emotions about, but overwhelmingly shame. ¬†And as someone who self harmed for years, I think Sadie Jones does an incredibly good job of portraying not just the act itself- and the cover up but all the feelings that come with it and with being ‘found out’.

I also love how grief is portrayed, not as though it’s a straight line to walk down but a blur to pass through that at some times seems thicker than others.

I think my most favourite thing though is just the characters themselves, they are all flawed- some hideously so, but all very real. ¬†It didn’t require much effort for me to imagine that this cast of people actually existed, which is sort of terrifying, but of course wonderful too because isn’t that¬†the point of a good book- to make you believe it could be real?

Obviously, if you haven’t gathered by now, it is one of my favourite books ever and I absolutely think you should go away and read it.

I, on the other hand am going to go away and try NOT to read the next book on my list because I am supposed to be waiting until May to share my thoughts on The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney with you…we’ll see if I can last that long I guess?! ¬†It’s not like I don’t have a HUGE pile of unread books waiting for me…literally, look at them all:

TBRpile

(and that doesn’t even include the ones on my kindle!)

It’s just that now I’ve started re-reading all these amazing books I haven’t read for ages, I can’t seem to stop…

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015

Camp-Participant-2015

After ‘winning’ CampNaNoWriMo in July last year and then losing/failing at actual NaNoWriMo in November I decided once again to take part this month. ¬†Because if there’s one thing my life is lacking right now it’s PRESSURE AND DEMANDS ON MY TIME.

Har-de-har.

Seriously.  I have set my word count goal pretty low (30k, i.e. 1,000 words per day) and I am continuing with my current Work In Progress, which is the sequel to the book I finished writing back in September (and have been editing to death since).

It took me 5 months to write that one and already it has taken me 5 months to get to a measly 20,000 words on this one. ¬†I have been so busy editing the first one it’s been hard to let go and just move on to the second one, and I have also been annoying the hell out of myself dithering over whether or not there is enough conflict in this plot line (there isn’t) and trying to find ways to add more (there aren’t any) instead of just admitting to myself that it doesn’t matter at this stage because even if it turns out to be the dullest book ever to dull, I still really want to write it so that I can move these characters on.

So that’s where I’m at and what I’m doing. ¬†I fully expect it to all go out of the window entirely once foster baby actually arrives and Life Gets Crazy but in the meantime I’m going to give it my best shot and see what I hit.

If anyone else fancies giving it a go then check out the Camp NaNoWriMo site¬†and if you do sign up then give me a shout as there’s still space in my cabin for a few more campers ūüôā

Anticipation

10 days ago we got the call that we’ve been waiting for since the 6th of January- when we were officially approved as foster carers. ¬†The call to say that there was a little one who needed somewhere to stay. ¬†Even the phone call itself was emotional, and the three days that followed were even more so- the highs of excitement at his possible imminent arrival and getting everything ready, the lows of not knowing if he was definitely coming or what he would be like when he did. ¬†It felt wrong to be excitedly preparing for his arrival when even just the fact that we’d been approached to take care of him meant that his little world was about to fall apart even more so than it might already have done. ¬†But having waited almost three months for our first foster baby all of us were eager to get started.

Then our social worker delivered some ‘bad’ news- he might not be coming after all, and several hours later, following court we we finally found out for sure that we were no longer needed to be on standby as he definitely wasn’t coming.

i actually found the couple of days of not really knowing if he was or he wasn’t, the hardest. Once we knew he wasn’t I could let go and get on with life as normal. ¬†It was disappointing of course, but it also felt wrong to be disappointed and like I posted on facebook at the time, it isn’t my job to second guess the judge and whether or not s/he made the right decision- all we need to do is just be here for when we’re needed, although I won’t lie, the passivity of this bit of the journey is driving me to distraction. ¬†There is literally nothing to do but wait.

Anyway, as it turns out we didn’t have to wait long. ¬†The following day I had three separate phone calls within the space of 90 minutes, each with a new referral. ¬†People have asked me how that works and if we then get to choose which of the three we’d prefer, and the answer is no. ¬†It doesn’t work like that. ¬†The fostering team call us with referrals that match our approval criteria- we have been approved for one child aged 0-2 of any gender or ethnicity. ¬†In this case the first referral wasn’t appropriate (twins!) and of the other two it went on priority. ¬†We can of course always say “NO”, if we felt that we couldn’t for whatever reason go ahead with the placement but right now it’s hard to imagine a child or situation or scenario that we would decline, although I’m sure there are some that I won’t have thought about because of being so new to it all.

So we are once again in the position of knowing that there is a baby out there to whom we have been ‘matched’ and we are just waiting for court (again) to make it official.

After the first call we spent three full days completely baby-proofing our entire house, making several trips into the loft and out to the shed, attaching squidgy rubber corners to the sharp edges of furniture, moving¬†all the boys teeny tiny toys into their bedroom and replacing them with¬†more baby-friendly toys so that I wouldn’t have to worry about a baby¬†choking on a Batarang, ¬†I got all the 12-18 month clothes out of a box in the loft and piled them neatly in the room, hung curtains and picture frames and searched online for some cute posters to put in them. ¬†We did so many things that then felt¬†entirely pointless when it turned out he wasn’t coming that I swore that next time I wouldn’t do anything until I knew for sure.

But that’s just not how it works. ¬†You get the call, you’re matched to the child and straight away you’re thinking What do I need to buy/do ready for his/her arrival?

Maybe it’s just my tendency to want to be super-organised and prepared but the idea of waiting for a social worker to ring on their way from court saying “I am coming to your house with a baby RIGHT NOW” before making any kind of preparations is horrifying. ¬†I would rather spend hours rearranging and building furniture and washing baby clothes and hanging them ready to be told it was all for nought, than do nothing and be racing around like a maniac at the last minute.

So our house has once again been altered in preparation for this little one, and nappies have been purchased and cot-beds built and baby monitors tested, and now we just wait (again) in anticipation.

There is so much that I won’t be able to share about our fostering experience, because of confidentiality and this blog not being anonymous (an oversight on my part, I have often thought!) but I will continue to share what little I can of our journey hoping that it will help anyone else who is thinking of fostering, or already doing, and that it will be a reminder for me when I want to look back on each stage and see how far we’ve come.