Monday, 23 July 2012

It's a dog's life

I'm putting together a hints & tips sheet on persuading and negotiating skills. As you would probably expect, my starting point was the internet.

Buried amongst sensible advice such as mirroring people's actions, framing the conversation correctly and  speaking confidently, was this gem:

"Put a photo of you and a dog on your desk. This will give people the impression you're loyal to them and inspire them to be loyal to you."

Certainly not a tip that has been handed to me on any previous training I've been on, I have to say.

I wonder if the type of dog matters? If I had a picture of me and a rottweiler would people make different assumptions than me with a poodle? Would my career path have been vastly different had I kept said photo of myself and random dog on my desk from day one?

I guess some things are just destined to remain life's mysteries...

Friday, 20 July 2012

A drink's too wet without one

I had my third Williams Syndrome Foundation meeting this week. And unlike the other two, nothing untoward happened! I didn't walk in on anyone in the loo, my skirt didn't blow up around my ears, and I even managed to conduct myself with a little decorum (not too much as I am an Essex girl after all!).

Putting the actual business of these meetings aside, I find them very interesting as whilst K & I are just starting out on our journey with E and what it means for him to have Williams Syndrome, a number of people around the table have been dealing with it for years. I learn a lot about what I can expect in the future and pick up handy hints and tips on how to manage any issues when they arise.

I wanted to share one of the stories I heard yesterday that left me chuckling and also admiring the lengths that parents will go to for their children.

As background, people with Williams Syndrome tend to take a long time to get to grips with certain food tastes and textures. Once they find something they like, they stick to it - sometimes to the detriment of all other food. One Dad was talking about how his son had  fixated on Rich Tea biscuits. The boy quite literally ate them by the dozen and they were practically all he ate. One day, to the boy's horror, McVitie's tweaked the recipe (you or I probably wouldn't have noticed, but WS people have very strong senses) and he decided he didn't like them anymore. He was still refusing other food though. So the Dad worked his way through a chain of people at McVities, until he reached the Chairman, to whom he told his predicament. The Chairman rallyed well and the next thing the Dad knew McVities had sent him a load of their old stock so his son could continue enjoying the taste!

This particular Dad is a great source of information to a number of us and yesterday he reminded me that as E is unable to fight for himself, K & I need to do it for him. Not just the big battles - the little ones as well so that E understands that he's entitled to everything that anyone else is entitled to.

Good words of wisdom. So back to that DLA form then...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Welcome guilt - I've been expecting you

Life has been busy recently. Exciting, crazy and busy and I'd allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security about my work/life balance.

Ignoring the suitcases under my eyes and the fact that I still only have time to put make-up on every few days, I was feeling as though I was actually doing okay with the juggling act. The boys were doing well, I felt quite on top of work and I was even managing to do a few bits and pieces for the Williams Syndrome Foundation.

So of course, in timely fashion, guilt came a-tapping on my shoulder this morning, demanding that I remember it's presence and spend a bit of time wallowing in it.

It came in the form of a rather upset little boy who hadn't seen his Mummy for a little while as I'd had a couple of later nights at work which meant I hadn't been home in time for bedtime, and was topped off by the fact that I went to the Netherlands for the day yesterday to see some colleagues. It was an important visit, we accomplished a fair amount and I enjoyed seeing them. Unfortunately, it meant that I was out of the house before C woke up and home after her went to bed. 

So this morning started at 5.50am with him clambering into bed with me (which is rather unusual as these days he tends to just go and thunder around downstairs). This was swiftly followed by him coming to the shower with me, watching me get dressed and eating breakfast with me. The patter I got from my little shadow went thus:

"Mummy - why aren't you here very much in the new house?"
"Mummy - are you going to come home tonight?"
"Mummy - when is it Mummy & C time?"

And so on, and so on.

I did manage to stem the tide for a while with a well timed present from my trip, but I'm not sure that guilt will be taking a holiday any time soon.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sports day catatrosphe

I took an early lunch today in order to spend an hour at C's sports day (it's only 5 minutes down the road from my home office).

I was really looking forward to it. However, from the moment I saw the words: "Mothers race" on the programme I knew I was a marked woman.

I hadn't come prepared. I was wearing high heeled boots. And there was no way I could say no and let C down.

The time seemed to speed by. The children did all their races (excellent entertainment!). C won his sprint and did a good job finishing in the hoola and zig-zag races.

And then it was time. The headmistress called up all the mothers. No one moved. She called again. Again no one moved. So I manfully stood up and walked across to the start line. And then there was a flurry of activity as about 40 mothers joined me.

Initially I was fairly relieved (running solo in front a crowd of people isn't high on my wish list!). However, once my initial relief subsided I started feeling a bit concerned. The reason for this concern was that as I looked down the row of Mum's all lining up to do their sprint, it struck me that a fair number of them were actually wearing their gym kit. And when I glanced down at footwear - every one of them had trainers on. Their reticence hadn't been coyness, it had been tactical - to throw other Mum's off guard.

"Ready, Steady - Go!". And we took off. Within the first few strides I'd established that this wasn't going to be some friendly jog to the finish line. This was full on war for some of them. As I was jostled from side to side my competitive spirit kicked in. So I may not be able to jog further than the corner shop at the moment, but this was a 25 metre sprint - and when I was 7 no one could hold a torch to me at that distance.

I dug in. And just as I thought I wouldn't disgrace myself, my heel got caught on the floor. And then the other heel caught. And in slow motion I crashed to the ground.

Nobody stopped to help. They all just ran around me/trampled over me and continued to head for that finish line.

I realised within a second or two that the whole of the nursery and reception school were watching me, so I got up quickly and did a mental check that no body parts were broken. I was about to take a bow when the sound of a thundering herd caught my attention. The Mum's were running back to the starting line. The only option left to me was to join back in with the throng and let the momentum carry me to the end.

To be honest, I'm still blushing now. C and K have of course tried to comfort me in their own way "Mummy - if you run more slowly you won't fall over", "L - at least everyone now knows who you are now!". Thanks chaps.

The only way to redeem myself is to win that d*mned race next year. If I start training now (and remember to wear decent footwear), I may just stand a chance!