Parking Ticket Mantra.

By Alison January 22, 2008 30 Comments 4 Min Read


My head gets in a terrible fuddle in January. My inner perfectionist whispers "Yes but shouldn’t January be a month of fresh starts and clean slates and brand new knickers?" My Mum says "Alison it’s January baby, thats all. It’ll all be over soon". And the rest of me pouts like a badly done to five year old and shouts "I know, but does fresh and and clean and new have to spell downright bloody miserable??"   

Tis officially miserable. The Daily Mail said so and you know what a font of wisdom they are. Apparently yesterday was "Miserable Monday" and it’s all downhill from here. At least until those fuzzy wuzzy lambs are born and the Easter Bunny starts wrapping Swiss chocolate in extravagant bows. And lets face it, we haven’t even got close to the endurance test that is February. In fact let’s not bother with the whole caboodle. Sign my petition to do away with that particular lifetime of Valentines and leap years and lets eat chocolate instead.   Marks and Spencer’s are now stocking a fine little box of violet and rose creams and blissful culinary oblivion is my own personal method of survival when life is leaving much to be desired.

We have you see acquired a vicious traffic warden who has seen fit to issue me with two £30.00 parking tickets in one week. The Man I Adored As A Teenager could fall in love with me, but ermmmm maybe not now…  and Finley is being assessed for dyspraxia tomorrow and upon questioning his teacher told me that they had decided to go down this route because he falls over a lot and cannot pedal a bike. Well yes said I, but I don’t have a garden and thus he doesn’t get much practice, to which she replied (brace yourself), well we are aware that there are social issues in the family. SOCIAL ISSUES! Hell’s bells, as if being a single mother wasn’t stigma enough in this little town, it is now clearly to blame for all manner of dubious health problems. I mean REALLY, could I not have tried harder to stay in my unmarried but still cohabiting (and thus almost socially acceptable) status and not inflicted a lovely little house with a happy little yard (but no garden) in the most affluent lane in the Northwest of England, upon my poor Coeliac ridden little boy???

It’s enough to make your blood boil. But luckily I prefer my blood lukewarm and so I am doing my up-most in very trying circumstances to stay calm and rational and address those issues I can address and not bother worrying about all those things I cannot change. And so I have thrust upon myself a to-do list of wot nots that have been bothering the back of mind since around July 2005. I am in a fit of the "must be dones". Ironing everything I own. Printing off lists of bills so I can see things in black and white and not through my rather lovely rainbow tinted glasses. Filling boxes full 0f paperbacks read and albums full of photographs. Chucking out more than just the chintz and creating order where there is none…

I think you see, that this urge to tidy up when life feels so very messy is a very human trait. A reaction to all that won’t obey the universe and do as you would have it done to you. I want parking tickets to disappear in a puff of smoke, men who declare themselves not good enough for me to let me make decisions on such matters, and  woman who are, like me, single parents through no fault of their own to never have to have their marital status referred to as an issue. To never again have to endure a raised eyebrow when it is duly noted that their surname differs to that of their child.

Goodness I’m in a rage! Don’t panic, it won’t last. I’ve never been able to bear a grudge. Not even against myself. So it’s onward and upwards. Curry with a new man on Saturday night (And I don’t even like curry!!). Parking tickets paid at the expense of goodness knows what and a meeting with the Special Needs lady tomorrow who will I think find me both defiant and determined to do the very best for my very very special child, dogged as I clearly am in their eyes, by all manner of problems said Daily Mail could  probably have a field day with…

But I would like, so very much, to learn to quiet my mind. To not feel the itch of frustration in my (broken) fingertips and listen instead to the sound of nothingness filling my mind. I’ve been reading Eat Pray Love and find myself consumed with envy at her ability to meditate, to sit at one with who she is and find forgiveness for all she couldn’t be.

I find myself consumed with envy on a daily basis lately. Tis a terrible thing is envy. But this too will pass. This too will pass.

This too will pass. My very own mantra.


  1. Lisa (the librarian says:

    …Alison, I really hope part of your new year "resolutions" is to call that teacher (who refered to your "issues") an insufferable bag of wind, or any other fruity description that takes your fancy! Honestly, how DARE she!!! I really must recommend actually losing your rag with these people, it's sooo liberating. I've only had occasion to do this twice in my life, and both times the "issue" was my son. I swear, just have a go, say what you think, you'll surprise yourself. You will work through this "issue" (ahem) and then can look back and laugh at how preposterous some people really are!! x

  2. La Chouette says:

    Oh la la. This is 2008, no 1908. There are tons of single mothers out there, mostly because the father left. Gees. This teacher is the one with the issues. By the way, I was terribly clumsy as a child, was never too good at sports (especially team sports) and I have no learning disability whatsoever. Good luck!

  3. La Chouette says:

    Oh la la. This is 2008, no 1908. There are tons of single mothers out there, mostly because the father left. Gees. This teacher is the one with the issues. By the way, I was terribly clumsy as a child, was never too good at sports (especially team sports) and I have no learning disability whatsoever. Good luck!

  4. Veronica says:

    the teacher is waaaay behind the times.
    But..this is not the time to meditate…. if you want him to keep up, then this is the time to get him out to the park on his bicycle.. push him and get him going where there is room.

  5. Marsha says:

    A remember hearing last year that the days of January 20, 21, and 22 were “the most depressing” of the year. Some academic did some study somewhere (real specific, eh??) that revealed that more people feel blechy on these days than on any others. Apparently, the holidays have passed and the bills are coming due and there’s not all that much to look forward to until, as you note, spring (and Easter’s early this year, and likely to be capital-C-Cold where I live) and there’s all kind of whatnot that we’re supposed to be despondent about with global econo-political maneuverings.
    Anyway, you’re right. So far, 2008 has a lot to answer for.

  6. Katherine says:

    Sweetheart, if all else fails, move to Bootle. You’ll be admired as a paragon of virtue around there. And so what if he can’t ride a bike? My best mate is 34 and still can’t ride a bike. There were kids in Bootle starting school that couldn’t even talk when I was doing work experience in schools (going back a good 15 years and I doubt it’s got better since…) It’s up to you to determine how much help your child needs (or not). Conscientious parents get lumped with huge guilt complexes from over-zealous health visitor types who create problems where there were none. My son’s teacher sat me down today and told me that the school don’t want him to come back next year – sometimes it would be nice to have a bit more warning about these earth-shattering pronouncements. Good luck, anyway.

  7. Carlie says:

    Golly Alison! When it rains it pours! I’m sorry! I hope January passes quickly and February smells of spring. I’m waiting for my baby to be born (I’m four days overdue) so I sympathize with your bleh feeling. I would really love the little one to just come. The teacher is bonkers. Hang tight!

  8. Oh, my. I’m afraid that comment would have sent me into a rage. Of course, I wouldn’t have said anything in the moment but thought of a million things to say some where around 3am- around eating copious amounts of chocolate. Your urge to organize seems a much healthier coping mechanism.
    Hope the curry is surprisingly pleasant.

  9. Kimberly says:

    Gee, I couldn’t ride a bike until I was 10 or 11, myself. I tried when younger, but fell so much that I decided I didn’t care to keep trying. Nothing was wrong with me; I just didn’t like doing things that hurt. BTW- I grew up to be the teacher!
    Are there not “social issues” in every home? Really. No home is perfect, especially not those that look it!

  10. Polly says:

    Maintaining the constants in our lives keeps us sane, I think (about tidying up). -Don’t fret the dyspraxia. Diagnosed or not, he’s your Finn. And besides, aren’t we all walking about with some undiagnosed neurological issue anyways?! =) Will be praying… Polly

  11. Karla/Grace says:

    I’d be raging too – how dare she talk about “social issues”! My goodness me what high and mighty throne is she abiding on that she can pass such judgment?
    You keep on doing your best, be the Alison we all love and Fin loves. Although, it is tough to deal with them while you wait for it to pass isn’t it?

  12. dianeinjapan says:

    I like your mantra. I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love–and I can’t help but think that she wouldn’t have been able to go off to India to meditate for a few months if she’d had a young child in tow. Your path to peace and forgiveness will likely be quite different, and that’s perfectly okay!

  13. Jade says:

    Finn has a Mother who loves him,and that is the most important thing.

  14. Mandy Muse says:

    Eat Pray Love was wonderful. And you do meditate – you do housekeeping meditation. Each time you focus on a task at hand, and pour yourself and your love into it, that’s meditation, too 🙂 Monks often do walking meditations.

  15. Sasha says:

    Hmmm. I myself have childcare, education and development qualifications, and ran a playgroup and am horrified at the attitude of your son’s teacher. For a start, she must have copious notes and developmental records charting Fin’s progress (or perceived lack of) to support her prognosis (which is usually made in conjunction with concerns raised by the parent by the way) – which you have every right to avail yourself of, and I suggest you do.
    Being a bit clumsy is childlike, and she should be basing her over-eager assessment on a lot more than being unable to ride a bike without falling off. He may be practicing to be a stunt man???!! Or trying to impress a young ladeee with how tough he is?!! BTW – my daughter was 6 before she rode a bike on her own, and now at aged 11 can still trip over her own two feet before our very eyes without knowing how the heck it happened! And there’s nothing at all wrong with her….
    It is also highly unprofessional to cite you having ‘social issues’ in conjunction with this. Is she newly qualified perchance??? Sounds to me like too many college theory classes and not enough good old fashioned experience and people skills to me! As someone else here has said, we ALL have social issues in one form or another (hers are obviously people skills and tact)- terrible of her to make you feel judged – this is absolutely NOT her role. She should be there to guide and support you both. Having a yard and not a garden is NOT a social issue for goodness sake! What is the school playground there for then???? Is she encouraging Fin to hone his motor skills with her activity plans???
    If you have no concerns about Fin yourself (honestly) then get him to the park, give him some bike practice (my biggest sense of achievement was the fact that I taught my daughter to ride her bike, not her Dad, a silly thing I know, but they usually take the credit for such memories don’t they??), stick a metaphorical ‘up yours’ to the teacher when he in fact is deemed ‘normal’ then make an official complaint to the school/parent governers about how you and Fin have been made to feel in the handling of this situation.
    So there.

  16. French Knots says:

    I’m a bit clumsy and rubbish on a bike, perhaps I have it too! Grrr! No wonder your blood is boiling.

  17. Jayne says:

    There’s an ‘expert’ round every corner nowadays – well meaning but often full of clap trap. I’m with the others who say that if you don’t see a problem that’s because there most probably isn’t one.
    By the way, while I really do understand the sentiment to bite back, I personally would just co-operate. You know that being bolshy will only be noted on your file and probably throw up yet another label to haunt you in years to come. (‘Resistence is futile’)!
    Don’t worry, Jan is nearly over and Spring/Summer really are just around the corner. The days are getting longer and there will be plenty of opportunities to fling open the windows, sweep out the old and bring in the new. Make a few plans and enjoy time with your little boy.

  18. Karen says:

    I too am reading Eat, Pray, Love. I had a wonderful suprise in early December when the Man and I packed up the Son (age 5) to go Christmas tree hunting. We live in Connecticut and decided to drive out to another town this year to buy our tree. We happened upon a tree farm called Fleas, Bees, and Trees (don’t you love that name), and who do you thing greeted us when we got out of the car? Yes, Liz Gilbert herself! She had the biggest, warmest, most brilliant smile you can imagine. Talk about radiating sunshine! She was just as wonderful in person as in her book. I guess she was helping out the folks during this busy time of year. She got my son some hot chocolate and the Man a saw and sent us on our way into the trees. I had such happy memories of that outing all during December as I looked at the tree and read her book. Hang in there Alison and learn from Liz’s book. She went through some really tough times, but she is smiling (radiantly) now!

  19. Alison, that teacher should be banned. Where on earth do schools (or any public place offiliated with children) find these close-minded, wailers that seem bent on making everything the fault of something dire?? It could just be exactly what you said (and probably is) he hasn’t practised enough – as a child I was HORRIBLE on a bike… because I didn’t practise, mostly because we lived on a hill and if I got going, I didn’t know how to stop with out crashing. Buy yourself some lovely violet and rose creams, ignore that appalling teacher and be secure in the knowledge that you are a MARVELOUSLY wonderful mother and woman and they are just miserable people who insist on bursting your bubble. And… January is a fresh start, so know that maybe you just needed to get those ugly situations out the way first, to enjoy the rest of the month??? It will be okay! I love your blog and wish you and Finn all the best. Look on the bright side… it is -5º F when I woke up this morning, that’s a HIGH temperature in the wake of a week of negative numbers… you MUST be warmer than that, right? Jenny (ArtGypsy)

  20. Mandi says:

    some people in so-called ‘authority’ know absolutly ziltch…who are they to judge anyway and baby has a beautiful loving mother…I know I would have that rather than being able to ride any bike on any day…

  21. Tell that woman to shut her gob and tend her own yard. I’m nearly 31 and still can’t ride a bike, yet I managed to get myself a degree, a rather responsible job and my own little dinky house and I’m doing marvelously well thank you (although still can’t spell) Surely to goodness there is some sort of rule to stop ignorant people like her from being in a position where they can influence impressionable minds? Social issues indeed, it sounds to me like it’s her with the sodding social issues (in with anger…. out with love…)

  22. Alison, I have a mint condish Penny Farthing you could ride. Trouble is – with no garden, where would you park it? And you can’t go leaving it out the front, in fear of the pesky traffic warden’s beady eyes. Perhaps we could put trainer wheels on the big wheel, so that the whole contraption looks like a huge spider, spawning it’s young.
    Just a thought……

  23. Flippin’ eck duck, I still can’t ride a bike and I’m 48! This teacher obviously has far too much time to think and not enough time to actually teach!
    I’m a new reader to your blog and I love it! Keep it up girl x

  24. Vee says:

    I have every confidence in your ability to cheerfully, kindly, firmly set this teacher straight. You have every right to be annoyed…deeply annoyed.
    As for the rest…well, it’ll pass just as you say. Good thing the expression isn’t “this, too, shall stay.” :>

  25. Anita says:

    My son was held back in kindergarten because he couldn’t skip, and he couldn’t walk down stairs one at a time, he would put one foot on a step, bring down the other foot, and then move on to the next step… They called it “pacing”… I called it rubbish, and I now homeschool him for lots of other reasons, and I don’t think that knowing how to skip is a requirement for getting on in life… whew! guess I needed a rant today, too!

  26. Janeen says:

    Do you think they know about your blog?

  27. Janeen says:

    Do you think they know about your blog? I wonder if her comment was more than just what’s on the surface? You think? Sorry to hear all the troubles and trials you are having. Tomorrow is a new day and this too shall pass. Have a great day!

  28. lizzie says:

    Well, dyspraxia, thats a new one on me – but then as the mother of five sons and six grandsons(and two lovely granddaughters) what do I know. Maybe some of them had it and I didnt know – who pointed this silly thing out to you anyway – I remember watching the video of him in the little pool with his little girlfriends – didnt seem to be much wrong with his motor skills then. I just think he might be too much of a bright BOY !

  29. julie says:

    Because he can’t ride a bike? really, truly?….unbelievable, what is the world coming to? Hang in there Allison, fight the good fight!

  30. stacey says:

    I really like your writing style – you’re very interesting and funny!

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