Paw Patrol: A Confused Mum’s Musings

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So, why exactly is a 10 year old in charge of the town’s emergency services? 

SB’s interest in Pokemon has stalled, and no matter how much I beg to watch Indigo League again, she’s resolutely disinterested. Instead, she’s gone much more age-appropriate in her tastes, which is why we’ve watched both seasons of Paw Patrol on Netflix about six times in the last week. We get through both seasons twice a day, easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s not Peppa Fucking Pig, but it’s leaving me with a lot of questions.

  1. They’ve left a 10-year-old boy in charge of the town’s emergency services. I feel sorry for Ryder. All he wants to do is play games and work on his quad, but whenever he gets a little downtime, the incompetent arseholes who inhabit Adventure Bay are calling him and begging him to help them out of whatever stupid hole they’ve dug themselves into.
  2. The emergency services are all dogs. This should probably have been #1, but I’m feeling really sorry for Ryder today. I know they say dogs are quite hygienic, but would you want one defibrillating you, or taking your statement after you’d been mugged?
  3. Weird emergency services… Okay, so we’ve got the police dog and the firefighter dog, I get that. And the hovercraft dog is basically the coastguard, and the helicopter dog is the search and rescue. But then there’s… construction dog? Is that in case someone forgets to build a house and it’s an emergency? And recycling dog. Poor recycling dog. All the other dogs have really cool stuff in their “pup packs”, what does he get? A grabby claw and some used batteries and tin cans.
  4. Even weirder emergency services. So in Season 2 they brought in new emergency services. Rather than think “I know, we’ll replace Bob the Builder Dog with a paramedic dog, and replace Bin Man Dog with a spy dog, we’ll just add extra responsibilities to the other dogs!”. Like, sorry if you’re having a heart attack and our Paramedic/Firefighter dog is putting out a fire, but Builder Dog can make you a nice coffin. Sorry if you’ve just been assaulted but Police Man/Spy Dog is out faffing with his drone, but on the bright side, here’s a coffee cup made out of old coffee cups, thanks Bin Man Dog.
  5. IT GETS WEIRDER. So we’ve got Flying Search and Rescue dog, who is the only lady dog in Season 1. So the producers think “I know! Let’s bring in another lady dog, who is also a search and rescue dog… but on a snowboard!”. Let’s have a character who is literally only useful if it is snowing/on a mountain. She could totally have been Paramedic Dog or Spy Dog.
  6. The general lack of lady dogs. Sexism! Start ’em young, folks.
  7. Who keeps electing that mayor? What were her campaign slogans? “Vote for me and I’ll walk around with a chicken in my purse and rely entirely on a 10 year old boy to run my town for me”?! Was Chickoletta her only competition? Even so, I think I would have voted for the chicken.
  8. Why do they keep saving Alex? They could reduce like 50% of Adventure Bay’s emergency services budget if they’d just leave Alex stuck up the goddamn mountain.
  9. Still a better love story than Twilight. Shout out to Wally, Wallinda and their little baby Wallbert or whatever they called him. Walruses in love are the highlight of this TV show for me.
  10. What happens when the dogs die? Do they go to the pet shop for a replacement Bin Man Dog? Do they age? Has this 10-year-old boy genetically engineered immortal dogs to work for his privatised emergency services forever?
  11. This is the future of the NHS, people. If privatisation goes ahead, in 5 years the emergency services in every town will be run by precocious ten year olds and their dogs.

Maybe I’m missing something, or maybe this show really is an allegory for a dystopian future in which all the adults are idiots and rely on a child and pets to save their lives every time they do something stupid.

Or maybe I need to get out more.

Probably that.

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Blogging Awards Make Me Proud To Be A Blogger

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The blogging awards season is coming to an end, with only the Mumsnet Blogger Awards left to go, and it’s been another great year.

People have nominated, voted, been shortlisted, attended glitzy award ceremonies and celebrated and commiserated as the best and the brightest in the blogging world are celebrated for their achievements.

This year – as with last year, and the year before – I haven’t really been involved. I’ve nominated and voted, but I haven’t been nominated or shortlisted myself. There’s always that little heart-in-the-mouth feeling when you see the lists go out and you think to yourself, “Is there a possibility I’m on there?”, but I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing when my name doesn’t appear on the list. Some of my lovely talented blogging friends have been shortlisted and finalists this year, so I’ve been really happy for them!

This blogging awards season has left an odd taste in my mouth, though. There seems to have been an undercurrent of backlash towards the blogging awards scene. Declarations that it’s all a personality contest; it’s the same people winning every time; others don’t stand a chance. I won’t call it sour grapes, because I know it’s hard. You put your blog out there, it’s very personal and important to you, and you want people to like it. You want to be recognised for the hard work you put in. It’s not sour grapes, it’s something else I can’t quite put my finger on.

Basically, I think people are looking at these blogging awards in the wrong light. They’re not pitting blogger against blogger in some kind of gory, bloody fight to the death. It’s not the Blogging Hunger Games (although that would be really cool, and it’d basically be a case of turn off the WiFi and see which blogger dies of not being able to Instagram first) – it’s a celebration of blogging.

I was watching the Periscope livestream of the MAD Blog Awards, and it struck me how celebratory it all was. There was no bitterness, no Oscars-style “disappointed loser’s clap” – everyone was genuinely excited for each nominee, and the applause and support for the winner each time was wonderful. Bloggers coming together from all over the country to celebrate each other. That’s what the blogging community is about!

When you see it as a contest, it becomes a case of “people clearly think their blog is better than mine”, “what does she have that I don’t?” – and that way bitterness and negativity lies. Instead, see the awards for what they really are. Recognising the outstanding achievements of certain bloggers; a chance to be inspired by what they’ve done with their blog, an opportunity to meet fellow bloggers and support each other.

Even if I never win a blogging award – and let’s face it, there’s thousands of us parent bloggers in the UK alone, my chances aren’t great – I’ll still love watching the awards ceremonies. Cheering on the winners and encouraging the runners up, celebrating the crazy, lovely world of blogging and the parent blogger community inside it.

Although if you do have a Blogger Hunger Games, you can leave my name off the nominations list for that one.

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Toddlers Are Assholes

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There, I said it. No beating around the bush or sugarcoating it. I promised this blog would be honest, and here it is. They’re assholes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love SB. I love her so much it hurts, and I’d do anything in my power to keep her safe.

But she’s an asshat.

My life is split into two halves.

Half of it is spent making bargains. “Calm down sweetie, and we’ll watch some Paw Patrol”. “Shut up and you can have a Milkybar”. “Seriously, shut up right now and I will let you brush my hair for 24 straight hours”.

The other half is spent making threats. “If you don’t calm down, I’m switching Paw Patrol off”. “Be quiet or you’ll never get Milkybar every again”. Oh, and my new favourite – “If you keep this up, I’m going to take a picture and put it on the blog”.

Yes, I’ve reached a new low. I’ve threatened my child; my precious, cherished baby girl, with my blog.

I took a picture, but I haven’t put it on the blog. (It’s on my Instagram, which was a sort of halfway house because she still didn’t freaking shut up and she looks really cute when she’s angry).

I keep asking myself “When will this stop?”, and then I remember the almighty tantrum I had last week over running out of chocolate spread so I can’t eat it out of the jar with a spoon, and feel a little bit of despair. If I haven’t outgrown it at 22 what hope does SB have?

My toddler might be an asshole, but I’ve got a sinking feeling that she’s learned everything she knows from me.

Poor Daf.

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Filing this blog post away under “Things my child will use against me in therapy one day”. 

Losing A Baby You Didn’t Try For

This blog post was originally posted over on Huffington Post.

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People are always sceptical when you tell them that your pregnancy was unplanned. They say “But contraception is so readily available! But surely you know what happens if you have unprotected sex?!”.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in September 2013, it was certainly unexpected, and we definitely hadn’t planned for it. We’d never for a moment thought I might get pregnant. So whenever people expressed doubt about unplanned pregnancies, I’d insist that people can have momentary lapses of common sense.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realised that our momentary lapse of common sense perhaps wasn’t as momentary as we’d thought. Neither of us had wanted me to get pregnant at that time – halfway through university was, without a doubt, the stupidest time to throw a baby into the mix – but neither of us had been strict on contraception for the previous six months, and it had nothing to do with common sense.

The summer of 2013 wasn’t the first time I’d been pregnant. Six months earlier, when I returned to university after my first Christmas break, I was in the very early stages of what would have been a very unwelcome pregnancy. Almost as soon as I realised, before I’d even had a chance to tell my partner Daf, I started bleeding. It was like a period on steroids; I didn’t go to class for almost a week. The pain was horrendous and the bleeding even more so.

I think I already knew what was happening, but a quick look at the NHS website gave me the proper name for it. A chemical pregnancy. Had I not realised I was pregnant, I might have written it off as a particularly heavy period. Instead, it was a very early miscarriage – and I was dealing with it alone, in my bedroom in halls. I called Daf and told him, wishing we were dealing with this together, and told myself it’d be over in a few days.

Physically, I was right. Emotionally, the effects lasted much longer.

If you lose a baby that you’ve planned and wanted and tried for, it must be unimaginably heart-breaking. People grieve for the baby they lost; for what could have been; for the pregnancy they wanted for so long.

When you lose a baby that you didn’t really want to have, you’d think it’s easier – that there’s at least some feeling of relief. For me, it was so confusing. If I hadn’t lost the pregnancy, there’s no guarantee I would’ve gone through with it anyway. At such a difficult time, right in the middle of the university term, there’s every chance we would have chosen an abortion. And still, after the bleeding had finished and the pains were gone, we were left with emptiness and grief.

 

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The guilt was relentless. I was a first-year student; I’d been drinking without realising that I was pregnant. Not just the occasional glass of wine; proper nights out. I convinced myself that I was the reason for losing the pregnancy. The pain and the grief was the punishment I deserved for hurting what would have become our baby.

I didn’t feel able to tell anyone. To this day, very few people know. I was scared of what they’d say – I couldn’t stand to hear platitudes like “Well, at least you weren’t trying”, or “You weren’t ready for a baby anyway”. If people don’t know the right thing to say when someone loses a longed-for baby, they’re even more clueless when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not their fault – it’s a difficult situation for all involved – but it makes people frightened to talk about it.

The grief and the pain brought Daf and I closer, but it made us reckless. At first, I think I was looking to replace the pregnancy I lost. Some sort of atonement for the dreadful thing I thought I’d done. When nothing happened after months, I convinced myself that I couldn’t get pregnant anymore. That was part of my punishment too.

And then September 2013 brought along a little blue cross on a pregnancy test.

I’ve never seen my daughter as a replacement for the pregnancy we lost, but as time has gone by, I’ve realised that I didn’t cause the miscarriage. Chemical pregnancies mostly happen because of chromosomal abnormalities; something no-one can help.

It’s never been more important to speak out about our experiences of miscarriages and chemical pregnancies, to reassure people that they are not alone – and to help people know what to say if someone tells them about their pregnancy loss.

Planned and wanted or not, if someone confides in me about the loss of a pregnancy, I’ll say to them what I wish someone had said to me.

“I’m so sorry. Would you like to talk about it? I’m always here for you”.