Growing up – do I have to?

a shot on a train of a man balancing toy soldiers on top of a toy panda.I really do have to stop playing about on trains. This week began with a competitive ‘balancing act’ between me and some boy’s Dad. The boy sitting next to me had some toy soldiers and a panda and was playing with them and got bored. His Dad started balancing them, seeing if he could get all three soldiers on the panda’s back. I started giggling and ended up involved. Simple and easy, and great to make a real human connection too. It amazes me that we sit so close to people whilst travelling, often for hours, and yet rarely introduce ourselves or even make eye contact. We are a strange species. (Oh and I won. Three soldiers).

home made chocolate ice cream. yum.Another odd thing about us as a race is our hoarding habit – well, certainly mine. This week I cleaned out a cupboard – very grown up of me – and binned or charity shopped over 3/4s of its contents as they were things I’d not used for years and years, and in some cases, didn’t know I had. I have an ice cream maker – I genuinely didn’t know.

Of course this meant I then had to make ice-cream which I’ve never done before. I picked a recipe off the internet for chocolate, and was delighted with the results. It’s extremely rich and tastes exactly like ice-cream!

a plate - now mainly empty - with different food labels abandoned on it. You can read 'zebra' and  'alpaca' and see one with a picture of a camel and a bottle of red wineThere was one more food related #DoDiffDaily too – we took part in a ‘safari supper’ this week – drinks and canapés at one house, then starter at another, mains at ours and finishing off with pudding next door! I could also have had ‘eat zebra’ as we did take safari rather literally and served up exotic meat burgers and sausages for tea – camel and red wine burger anyone?

Two work related ones too – firstly I spend a day working with people from Brazil, not done that before. I found them open, warm, generous and not afraid to challenge and ask questions. My kind of people!

The second was to watch an old video I’ve not seen for over 10 years. It was a video made 16 years ago about Disability Arts and I used to use it weekly as part of training and advocacy work. I had it converted to dvd as I wanted to show it in Hong Kong to a group I am working with to illustrate the journey we have been on in the UK, and picked up the digitized copy this week. I’ve not watched it for 10 years as I no longer have a video player!

It was hysterical to see all the people featured as their younger selves – it includes footage of Caroline Parker, Julie McNamara, Tony Heaton, Heart ‘n’ Soul, Johnny Crescendo, Gioya Steinke, Candoco and Ian Stanton – most of whom are still active in the disability related arts scene (sadly two of those featured are no longer with us). It makes me realise just how deep the roots are of the work I love. The politics may be less apparent in some of the work that is created now, but it is all born from the politics of this time, from when we really did have to fight for our rights. Ironic that also this week the fight to challenge the closure of the Independent Living Fund was won. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

It also made me recognise how quickly my own life has changed. I feature on the video in one brief scene marching at a demo pushing a buggy. The child in the buggy learns to drive next month…

Three trick or treaters - including my daughter ( a zombie, a china doll and a vampire)And finally this week it was the first night I’ve waited up for my youngest to come home. You know that moment when they are out at a mate’s and you’ve not quite agreed a specific time to be back, and you know they are safe but you keep checking the clock? I didn’t want to nag – she’s 12 and had gone out for tea with a friend followed by trick or treating. We’d seen them once during the night (they came to trick or treat us!) but then nothing… She appeared home at just gone nine. Trick or Treating had morphed into watching Waterloo Road at her friends! I love watching the boundaries of independence develop in my kids. When they feel safe, when they choose to take minor risks. I think one of the biggest roles we have as parents is to let our children grow and somehow this night felt like a marker for me.

Maybe it was also as it was one of the first Halloween’s I’ve not dressed up or done a pumpkin for years – it was all the kids own doing this year and I just sat back but still got to benefit. Maybe I’m finally growing up after all these years? Although I did begin this blog by talking about balancing soldiers on a panda on a train, so maybe not…

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