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Why I Stopped Feeling Guilty That My Son Doesn’t See His Father

This is a personal story. I have a couple of reasons for writing this. One of those reasons is simply because I am a writer and writing is how I do things. Another reason is to help other people. Recently, I have seen and read of other people trying to protect their children and feeling guilty about it.

 

Before I begin, I must clarify two things. First of all, as I write, it may seem matricentric with the mother as resident and father as non-resident. While I do realise that these situations can occur the other way around, it is still most common for mothers to be the resident parent and it is the case for me. Secondly and, perhaps, most importantly, I am absolutely an advocate of children spending time with both parents. I truly believe that, with certain but very few exceptions, it is a cruel person who would deny a father his child (or vice versa). In my honest opinion, a good mum will not push a dad away or prevent him from seeing his children. I must digress here for my intention is not to rant.

 

So, here is my story. I have two children. They each have a different father. My eldest child has a good relationship with his. My youngest, however, does not have the same. When I finally left our shared home in March 2014, I made sure that my son still saw his dad. I would take him over there on a Saturday. We began with having days out together but, without going into detail, this set-up didn’t work. I then started leaving my son with his dad for a couple of hours eventually encouraging him to stay overnight. My son didn’t want to stay there. Of course, I felt bad for making him stay but I would have felt bad for not encouraging it. It was a no-win situation for me. I could make my child go to his dad’s knowing he didn’t want to go or I could be ‘one of those’ mums, seen as someone who had stopped a father seeing his son. I have seen too many mothers deny their children a relationship over petty or selfish reasons, and I have seen too many loving fathers made to feel like they don’t deserve to be a dad or their children are better off without them. Sometimes this leads to them feeling unable or unworthy to fight while manipulative mothers turn children and other family and friends against them. I won’t deny that there are plenty of dads who simply do not bother but I am also very aware that there are mothers who play the game. I didn’t want other people to think this of me.

 

I continued making sure my son went over to his dad’s every weekend. After a while, it became every other weekend or would cancel because he had other plans. My son was so relieved each time he didn’t have to go to his dad’s, especially once I’d met my new partner. Since the day they met, my son has preferred my partner’s company to his dad’s.

 

My son had begun to get quite upset, not really understanding why he had to go to his dad’s. All I could say was ‘because he’s your dad’. I knew my son’s reasons for not wanting to go – mainly because he was just ignored, left to watch television while his dad played computer games. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problem with children watching TV sometimes but I do have a problem with it being all they do. Dad never cleaned or tidied either. I’m not the tidiest of people myself but there is a big difference between a couple of dishes in the sink because you haven’t got around to it yet and having a house full of rubbish all over the floor, dishes constantly stacked, and mess everywhere because you just can’t be bothered. As you can probably imagine, I was reluctant every time to send my son.

 

What I did, in the end, was to let my son decide. After he’d been going for about a year, I told him he’d have to keep going for another year, which happened to be his 11th birthday. I thought this a reasonable age to decide, and a reasonable amount of time to give his dad a chance at being a dad.

 

Well, in the end, neither my son nor I had to make the decision. I had decided to ask for maintenance. Not long after this, my son’s dad suddenly didn’t have a job any more. He stopped using social media and he got rid of his mobile phone. I could no longer contact him other than just turning up at his door. I did this a couple of times and there was never any answer, regardless the time or day. He was due to have my son the weekend before my son’s birthday but we could not get hold of him. I had managed to get a message to him via mutual friends. I found out that the message had got to him by sheer co-incidence that I happened to be walking past somewhere he happened to be. He made excuses for not having contacted. So, he had got the message but chose not to respond.

 

Even though his dad had made it obvious he wasn’t going to make any effort, I still felt bad that I wasn’t taking my son to see him. With no way of contacting, I couldn’t make any arrangements so the choice was out of my hands.

 

If I thought that my son wanted to see his dad, I would still make the effort but he doesn’t. He has chosen my partner to be his dad. This is something else about which I feel strange. I don’t like children being raised to believe someone is their parent when they are not. I don’t like the idea of a step-parent taking over and replacing a parent when the parent wants to be involved (and has given no reason not to be). However, my son knows full well who his biological dad is and he knows who loves, nurtures, and cares for him as a dad is supposed to. They are not the same person.

 

This is not some sort of justification post, it is me getting thoughts out of my head and confirming things. I did not stop a father seeing his child, I made as much effort as I could to keep him involved so there is nothing to justify. It has taken me a long time to stop feeling bad about it, although I know I never had to feel bad about it.

 

I hope that this post can help other people in similar situations. The main points I am making is that there are times you will feel that whatever you do is wrong and that the right decision to make sometimes has to be the lesser of two evils.

 

I will never condone any parent deliberately keeping a child away from another parent out of convenience, spite, bitterness or selfishness or even opposing parenting style. It is normal for a good parent to feel guilty if the children do not see the other parent. A good parent will do what is best for the child. This usually includes ensuring a good relationship with the other parent. I say ‘usually’ because, as I said before, there are some circumstances in which the child must be kept away.

 

The way I see it is that if you have made an effort but the effort is ignored and you make it clear that the door is always open, then you have done all you can. My son has a loving family, including members of his dad’s family (because it’s not their fault he chose not to bother), my family, and my partner and his family.

 

Anyway, I hope I have put my point across clearly but I think this may have come across a little disjointed. I no longer feel guilty that my son doesn’t see his dad because I have come to realise and accept that my son is happy. He is old enough and intelligent enough to know what he wants and I have made sure he knows he only has to ask if he wants to see his dad.

 

So for all those mothers (and fathers) who do make the effort or who have a good reason not to, please don’t feel bad. In those exceptional circumstances when keeping the child away is the best thing for their own safety, think about how much worse you would feel if you didn’t keep them safe. For those who have tried to keep someone in your child’s life who has proven they are not interested, well done – you can be proud that your child will know you did your best. As for those who keep a child away from a loving parent because of selfish reasons, think about how your children will feel and whether that is best for them.

That’s about all from me. Thanks for reading.

Musings of a Grasshopper Mind

Trying to focus on one… ooh a shiny thing…

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Musings, problems, thoughts, troubles, trials… No, these are not merely a string of random words. They are words which were considered for the title of this piece.

This, it could be said, is a product, in itself, of the ‘grasshopper mind’.

 

What is a Grasshopper Mind?

A grasshopper is a small insect of the order orthoptera, suborder caelifera. They are related to crickets and katydids. They spend their days hopping about and minding their own business.

As grasshoppers are known for their jumping and seemingly sudden movements in random directions, it seems an appropriate metaphor for someone who is unable to focus.

A grasshopper mind means that a person may ‘jump’ from subject to subject in an entirely unpredictable way. Their focus of attention does not remain in one place for very long.

 

Do You Have a Grasshopper Mind?

Do you ever get that feeling that you want to be doing twenty other things while you’re already busy with twenty more?

Do you ever read something interesting but never get to the end because you’re off on a tangent at every other paragraph, with an incessant and insatiable need for more information about this character or that piece of history?

If your answer is ‘yes’ then you too may well be the owner of a grasshopper mind.

Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

The best answer to this would be ‘both or neither’. If it is essential to focus on one thing, flitting from one random thought to another may not be ideal for the situation. However, changing subjects regularly means unlikelihood of becoming bored, usually learning a lot of things (albeit little bits about a lot of things as opposed to in-depth knowledge of one or two subjects).

People with grasshopper minds can find it difficult to concentrate. This is not usually a good thing. On the other hand, taking a break from one task and occupying oneself with another can be advantageous at times.

A surgeon performing an operation really needs to concentrate on the job in hand without becoming distracted. A writer, though, may do well to have a wide selection of ideas and distractions in order to come up with new thoughts.

Of course, a surgeon, for example, may well have a grasshopper mind because it does not necessarily mean a total inability to focus. It can mean that a mind wanders when unoccupied or when not occupied by a particular focus or specialism.

 

Can a Grasshopper Mind Be Controlled or Overcome?

Some people can control their level of distraction. Sometimes all it takes is to find a single thing of special interest. Even the least focused person is often able to obsess about something they love.

A grasshopper mind can also be used to advantage. It promotes creativity and lateral thinking, a chance to come up with ideas which, with a linear thought process, might be overlooked.

As with anything else, some people will find it easier than others to concentrate on one thing or to control their urge to veer off on tangents.

 

Note from the author: I had originally written this for publication elsewhere but was too short and they didn’t like the artwork. Of course, by the time I knew this, I had already begun working on 42 other things and didn’t want to edit it (partly due to time constraints but mostly out of sheer laziness). I asked my other half to improve the images but he takes too long. So here it is for you instead. I hope you have enjoyed it. I also thought the end was a little abrupt but that’s grasshoppers for you. Did you know there are, according to www.orthoptera.org.uk, 27 species of grasshopper and cricket native to the UK? That’s not many really, considering there are, according to Rentokil, around 650 species of spider. I love insects and arachnids. I could write a post or three about them but probably won’t. I am also a lover of words and their meanings and origins, etc. There is a connection here 🙂 The study of the origin and changing meanings of words is ‘etymology’ and I find it amusing when my other half calls it ‘entomology’, which is the study of insects. OK, I’m done. Goodbye for now.

Ban the Z

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This is a call to remove the letter Z from the alphabet. That is Z pronounced ZED, by the way, not ZEE. By all means, keep ZEE. This ban is intended to cover UK English. By all means, keep the Z(ee) in US spellings but it is entirely unnecessary in proper English.

 

It all started when an article of mine was edited without warning and without prior knowledge of the edits before publication (OK, maybe it didn’t quite start then but that is what got me most disgruntled. Disgruntled enough to make a stand).

Constant underlining of words by spellcheckers because they only recognise US spelling is annoying (yes, thank you Grammarly, that is ‘recogniSe’, there is no need to underline because you think there should be a Z). Knowing that every single word in your article is correct, even if you do find yourself double-checking and second-guessing, makes it disheartening at best, downright rude or offensive at worst, to have it altered with neither warning nor consent, especially when it could make you look unprofessional.

The offending article (here if you wish to read it) was an article about education. The piece begins “In the UK…” As such, it surely comes across as unprofessional to have it littered with misspellings. I do not wish to take issue with US versus UK. If you are from somewhere which uses the US standards then that is your prerogative to use them (or not). I am merely annoyed that my deliberate UK spellings were changed and are not going to be corrected in a piece which really would benefit from being in UK English.

On a side note, I have just realised something – ‘enrol’ in UK English is ‘enroll’ in US English. This seems unusual as other words often have letters removed from UK English words for US spellings (traveller/traveler; jeweller/jeweler; colour/color, etc.)

Several of the words in this particular article are words ending with ‘-ized’. That is, in its current state after having been butchered by the American editors.

 

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Adapted from original by James

 

This is where ‘Ban the Z’ comes in. This is a campaign to remove the letter Z from the English alphabet. It is not necessary. Realised, analysed, subsidised, etc. I see that (the very annoying) Grammarly, which takes it upon itself to get in the way, has underlined these perfectly acceptable words simply because they are the UK spellings (in fact, according to several sources, they are the standard everywhere outside of North America).

The campaign to remove Z from the alphabet will see ‘-ized’ words disappear and be replaced with the much prettier ‘-ised’. Other than this common suffix, there are a number of other words which would need to be changed. So, here is my proposal:

 

A black and white striped equine animal will now be known as a ‘sebra’

The brain teasers you might complete in your daily newspaper are to be called ‘pussles’

The sound made by a bee should from here on in be referred to as ‘buss’

The pattern shall continue thus for all words containing the obnoxious inconvenience that is the letter Z wherein each Z will become S.

Finally, all people whose names begin with or contain a Z must choose a different name.

 

This is my proposal to remove Z from the English alphabet.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/purplecar/6308607821/in/photolist-aBtgjn-T77LTN-SW2RF9-2TR8G4-SzZE1C-TaV5Qi-TTbnun-T2Nna9-SW4m4E-4MiDd2-51Cw4n-Tzxmpq-U2xDCs-Tius4Y-TL1dzP-pLB4PM-4MiDbF-z421U-59Mb75-5iAhWs-SzUiMb-68L1uo-eaxUFX-68FMo8-eaxUEv-SzV1SY-iTPk-5crUNx-wRMT2-pGSmwd-JXj3HK-kub4Rc-4GXcBN-QyYrXM-4zqZCD-5tFwKC-9vdQaf-4MnNAb-6tsinT-4D99w-RQiNaV-qgRCdH-54bqoJ-Uk5bJu-pcGHL8-oH6V6p-4W1jMP-9mwwe2-Rsex92-4XP7yQ
Photo by Christine Cavalier

 

Nuneaton Raid Connected to Manchester Terror Attack

Police were in the Abbey Green area of Nuneaton last night (Wednesday 24th May). According to some reports, armed officers were called to Earls Road and Countess Road. It has also been reported that roads had been blocked off and that a suspect was TASERed along Abbey Street. This information has, however, not been confirmed.

A forensics team was at a home in nearby Meadow Street, adjacent to Pool Bank Street recreation ground, around 9pm. A uniformed police officer prompted vehicles to turn back as they ventured down the narrow street.

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed in a statement that a Nuneaton home was searched in connection with the Manchester terror attack earlier this week.

According to GMP, as of this morning (Thursday 25th May) there have been a total of eight arrests in conjunction with Monday’s attack, including one arrest as a result of last night’s incident in Nuneaton.

Warwick

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Sheldon Tapestry (map of Warwickshire commissioned in the 1580s)

Sitting on the River Avon is the picturesque county town of Warwickshire. Most famous, perhaps, for its medieval castle, Warwick is also home to a variety of other landmarks including Saxon Mill, a former mill which is now a popular restaurant and bar; Playbox Theatre Company, a troupe founded in 1986 and offering workshops to young thespians; and the Lord Leycester Hospital. Currently a retirement home for ex-servicemen, the building has made several television appearances including ‘How We Built Britain’ and Doctor Who episode ‘The Shakespeare Code’ in 2007.

Amongst the ancient, interesting, beautiful, and famous buildings of Warwick are two museums:- Warwickshire Museum (or Market Hall Museum) and St. John’s House Museum.

The recently refurbished Market Hall Museum is cared for by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire. The 17th Century building stands prominently in the centre of Warwick. The museum contains artefacts from various eras of history. From dinosaur bones to taxidermy to Anglo-Saxon clothing, it is a collection which shows the changing landscapes of Warwickshire.

 

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Weaving

 

Market Hall Museum is also famed for its beehive. Bees live in the museum and are cared for by museum staff and Warwick and Leamington beekeepers. Honey bees have been resident for so long that some of their first visitors are now bringing their grandchildren.

A ten minute work (or five minute drive) from the centre and the Market Hall Museum is St. John’s House. This museum is set next to St. Nicholas Park. The park is a popular landmark in itself, with a small fun fair, crazy golf, cafe, boating on the River Avon, and other amenities.

 

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Front of St. John’s House

 

St. John’s House is home to a collection of toys from across generations as well as offering audios with further information about the history of the house. The first floor is occupied by Warwickshire Royal Regiment of Fusiliers which gives insight into soldiers, war, technology, and the changes and history of war.

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Museums are free to enter, although there are boxes in which to drop a donation. St. Nicholas Park is also free. However, there are charges for some activities.

Ewe and Lamb, Bromsgrove: review

Set in the idyllic landscape of Worcestershire, the Ewe and Lamb is a beautiful pub, serving a variety of meals and a small selection of real ales.

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Benches surround the front entrance from the ample car park, and there is more seating in a sizeable garden to the side. A well-maintained play area is also featured within the garden.

Inside, the Ewe and Lamb is spacious and bright, boasting views of the surrounding countryside through large windows.

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The staff and atmosphere are pleasant and welcoming. Meals are well presented, excellent quality, and very good value for money. A children’s menu is available as well as light bites, salads, grills, and other ‘pub favourites’.

Situated in Bromsgrove, the Ewe and Lamb is just a two-minute drive, or a short walk, from Avoncroft Museum and makes a very satisfying end to a day out.

 

Lime Kilns Inn: A Review

 

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Lime Kilns

 

This cosy Leicestershire pub is easily accessible as it lies on A5 Watling Street. Set overlooking the Ashby canal, Lime Kilns boasts a large beer garden and was awarded ‘Hinckley and Bosworth CAMRA Pub of the Year 2016’.

The pub serves a variety of ales and ciders, and offers an extensive food menu. Meals range from traditional favourites such as scampi and chips, steaks, and a choice of pies to more unusual dishes like blueberry lamb.* As a family friendly pub, a good children’s menu is available too.

 

There is a flight of stairs from the car park to the lounge although there is disabled access to the pub. There is a very cosy, warm and welcoming atmosphere. A perfect place to pop in for a pint or a meal and enjoy the views.

The Lime Kilns website can be found here: http://limekilnsinn.co.uk/

*Recommended by this author

Personal review: I went in with a large party for my brother-in-law’s birthday. We had reserved tables. I wasn’t sure whether to try to blueberry lamb as it was something I’d never had. I’m glad I did because it was absolutely beautiful. I asked for it to be served with new potatoes, which were a good size and a good portion. The meal was also served with peas and a small, plain side salad. I’m putting the emphasis here on ‘plain’ because so many places serve salads drowned in slimy, sweet dressings so it was really nice and refreshing to have a salad that was actually fresh and tasted of salad.

 

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Mother’s empty plate

One of the party was my mother. She is really fussy. I took a picture of her plate as, not only had she found something she liked, she had eaten it all without a single complaint. My son was particularly impressed that the 10oz gammon was served with both egg and pineapple. We’ve already decided that we’re going back for my partner’s birthday next month.

Midlands Town to Receive City Status

Edit: I have a confession to make. This was an April Fool story. While most of the information in the article is true, the little town of Bedworth will not be getting city status this year! Let me know if you were fooled. 😀

 

 

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Bridge 13 at Coalpit Fields, Bedworth

5.5 miles to the north of the city of Coventry is a market town of Saxon origins, recorded in the Domesday Book. A town which, largely due to the mining and ribbon weaving in Coventry, became an industrial town and was, for a long time, predominantly a mining town.

Above: Bayton Walk and Coal Truck at Bedworth Miners’ Welfare Park

Since the decline of the mining industry, Bedworth has become more of a commuter town due to its central location, transport links and close proximity to major cities Coventry, Leicester, and Birmingham.

There are no official criteria to become a city, although it is a common misconception that a city requires a diocesan cathedral, but such an accolade may only be granted by a British monarch.

It is at the discretion of the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, to decide when a competition for city status should be held. Competitions are usually held on occasions such as important Royal anniversaries. (UKCITIES)

This year, there have been significant Royal anniversaries. Not only has the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday but also her 65th year on the throne, making her the longest reigning monarch as the first to reach this sapphire jubilee.

The decision to grant city status is based not on the size, population, or having any particular building but is more about community life. While Bedworth has its popular Civic Hall and Leisure Centre, historic Miners’ Welfare Park and Almshouses, and other nearby attractions and facilities, the decision was made, primarily, as a result of Bedworth’s claim to fame as the only town or city to mark Armistice Day on 11th November every year (rather than the nearest Sunday). A day when the town comes together for this well-attended event.

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Cadets join parades at Bedworth Almshouses

Having city status does not award any special rights other than the use of the word ‘city’. The accolade, however, carries prestige and competitions can be hard fought.

Swanswell Park

These images of Swanswell Park were taken on 28th January 2017. All images are my own.

 

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Archway entrance Stoney Stanton Road

 

 

These are some photographs which I took at Swanswell Park, Coventry. As you can see from the pictures, there are swans, geese, and other birds.

 

 

The water here is known as Swanswell Pool, and is the only surviving part of what was once a lake called Babba Luca. Coventry – Now and Then

 

Around since the 12th Century, the pool is thought to have originated as a medieval monastic fishpond. (Coventry City Council)

 

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View of pool looking towards White Street entrance

 

 

The park and pool are just on the edge of Coventry City Centre, around half way between City College and Lady Herbert’s Gardens. Along with the Gardens, Swanswell Park could be considered one of Coventry’s ‘hidden gems’, an historical landscape amid the modern city.

 

 

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I don’t know what this is. If someone more knowledgeable on the subject would enlighten me, I’d love to know and I’ll update this caption.

 

 

 

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Bird Street entrance

 

 

Spellbound: a review

 

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Frightlings calendar from Spellbound

 

 

Spellbound is a lovely little gift shop near Hartshill, Nuneaton. Run by the lovely Lisa and Jeff, Spellbound sells jewellery, ornaments, fairies, incense, crystals, tarot cards, books, bags, and a variety of other things.

As stockists of Nemesis Now, Anne Stokes, and Frightlings products, to name a few, there is always something for the fan of art or the practising witch as well as those simply looking for an unusual gift.

Every customer is valued and a warm, friendly welcome is offered to all who visit. Spellbound is highly recommended by customers who have come to view Lisa and Jeff as friends.