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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Highs and lows

Yep, you said it Garfield.  I confess, I've been in a bit of a dark place lately.  You see, it turns out when it comes to money there is broke and broke.  There is the broke where you THINK you're broke and the broke where you really ARE broke.   There have been a lot of times over the years where I have thought I've been broke but none of these have compared to the last month.  I remember reading a discussion on the Simple Savings website not so long ago entitled 'How broke have you been?'  and sat wide-eyed as people described not being able to afford to buy a tube of toothpaste or worse, tampons.  I was horrified.  I couldn't possibly imagine what that was like.  Not being able to afford life's most basic essentials, how bad would that be?  How things have changed since I read those stories.  I apologise for imparting too much information but I can now say that I DO know what it's like not to be able to afford tampons.  And whilst surviving without buying them was empowering in an odd sort of way, it's not really an experience I am keen to repeat.

The good thing about not being able to spend any money whatsover is that the results are rather like Pantene.  It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.  Eventually, your living expenses get to the stage where they are so low that you start to notice the difference in your bank balance.  I'm still waiting for it to get to the stage where we actually get to KEEP some but just knowing that you are actually making a difference is enough to keep you going. 

Which is good, because there have been a few days where I've been gloomier than Eeyore and not even a beach walk has helped.  I guess we all feel like the most useless, worthless being on the planet now and again and I am a champion of beating myself up. Fortunately when this happens I have the love of some wonderful people to talk me out of it.  Except they don't pat me on the shoulder and tell me how nice and lovely I am, or bring me cups of strong, sweet tea.  Instead they make me laugh until I cry and my stomach muscles ache from being doubled over.  They are my boys.

Liam has mercifully made it through the teenage grunting stage and has now progressed to using proper words and sentences once again.  He still doesn't say much as a rule but what he does say is usually hilarious.  When it comes to cheering me up however it's more about the things he does than the things he says.  As any mother of a 15-year-old boy will know, hugs are pretty few and far between so to get one means a lot.  In Liam's case they come in the form of a great bear hug which just about squeezes the life out of me and lifts my feet considerably off the ground.  To get a hug like that - correction - for someone as gloriously and perpetually vague as Liam to even NOTICE that I'm sad enough to need a hug like that - usually means I must look like absolute crap.  Which makes me snap out of it pretty darn quick because I hate for my boys to see me sad.

Ali on the other hand knows exactly which buttons to push to make me laugh.  And I mean literally because usually he'll call me in to show me something funny on YouTube.  Seeing as we're both equally mad he knows instinctively which gems of insanity to share with me, from my favourite Miranda Hart clip to the rather disturbing Dubstep Dentist.  However I think the other day was his biggest triumph yet, and all thanks to the humble iPod Touch.  'Talking Pierre' is an app which features a talking parrot.

Basically, you can record whatever you like into the microphone and he will say it back at you, parrot fashion.  This sounds funny enough in itself when you listen to it but then dear old Pierre started throwing in random words in random places and I was soon an absolute mess.  Once again I was in tears - but this time it was because I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to die.  Ali on the other hand was being heartily congratulated by the rest of the family for being the only person who had successfully pulled me out of my hideous black hole of gloom all day.  Mind you, I think they were kind of over my virtual feathered friend when I was still shrieking with hysterical laughter two hours later!

It goes both ways of course.  Nobody knows how to cheer up my boys when the chips are down better than I do. I've got it down to a fine art, not that it happens very often.  If Ali's the one with the problem we head out with the dogs for a long walk where he can rant and rave to his heart's content.  Or, if I'm feeling really generous I'll let him watch one of my recorded episodes of 'The Weakest Link'.  Precious because usually I have to watch these without him, otherwise all I get is 'MUM!  STOP ANSWERING ALL THE QUESTIONS!' even if they are answers he couldn't possibly know.  By the time we've beaten the rest of the other contestants, slagged them all off for being thicker than us, won £3,000 (being the UK version) and congratulated each other on being true geniuses he's usually stopped worrying about whatever was bothering him in the first place.  With Liam the answer to regaining happiness lies in his stomach.  As yet, I've found there's nothing a potato top pie or a banana split can't fix.  Throw in 'The Inbetweeners' on DVD for good measure and he's soon back to his cheery self. 

We all have highs and lows and our family has adopted a new dinner time regime which we have shamelessly pinched from six university students who are flatting together.  Every day they sit down at dinner and share the high and low points of their day with each other.  I really liked this idea and as soon as the boys reach the dinner table they race each other to say 'Highs and Lows!'  We have found this awesome because let's face it, who REALLY talks about their day?  Aside from the 'Hi honey, I'm home!' or 'Hey, how was school?'  'Alright', how many of us really get beyond that?  Since we have been sharing our highs and lows everyone is communicating much better and we are finding out much more about what is going on in each others' lives and more importantly, how we are all really feeling.  I'm so glad we started doing this and am very grateful for the idea.  Give it a go, you may be very surprised!

TODAY I LEARNED: That there is still a great deal of wisdom to be learned from younger people.  Just don't tell them I said that!


  1. Good to see you back, I missed your posts!

  2. I'm going to try this idea of "Highs and Lows" with my family! You're so right. When we ask how the other member's of the family's day has gone, we don't get very deep. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. Hi Jackie Hope just writing it all down and putting it out there has been helpful in itself. have been struggling a bit myself lately so I am trying to keep busy, keep moving and eat real food.
    Barb K

  4. Hi jacky....ive been wondering how you guys were going.
    I too know what its like to be in that boat financially...and its no fun....
    I hope you and youre family get out of it soon! cheers