I guess my view on the world has changed since having children. I want them to go and experience ‘experiences’ I never have. T talks about going to New Zealand to find Velvet Worms and I say that he needs to work hard and save up his pennies to go. I don’t want to limit his possibilities but I do want him to understand he is capable of creating his own future and goals, be it university, apprenticeships or travel. When we found out we were having another child I was so excited. I was excited because we were having a healthy baby and then we found out she was a she. I am one of 3 sisters, Mr Theoplusgrace has 5 sisters and 2 brothers. We thought T was a girl till the scan told us otherwise.
You start to pick up on the oddities of the world. When G had her starting session at nursery, one of the nursery staff asked “Which toys does G like to play with?” I answered with “painting, cars, animals and bubbles”. The nursery staffer replied with “boys toys then” I raised my eyebrows and said “Sorry, are we in the 1950s? You don’t need a penis to play with a car or a tiger.” Well, I am not sure what she wrote down but she obviously thought I was mad. I didn’t, I was furious.
I was born in the 80s. A new decade, the decade of excess, boom/bust and protest. For me personally it was possibilities, I read very early, I read all my parents books, including the Churchill Diamonds from the Reader’s Digest. I was 4 yrs when I started on library books. I worked my way thru the books that interested me in Orpington Library and then the lovely librarian ordered me books in from Bromley. I then went to school and didn’t read for a year. The school I went to didn’t see reading as important. I learnt to write and then they allowed us to go to into the school library. As a punishment once I wasn’t allowed to go to the library one afternoon to borrow a book, so I changed all the passwords on the 3 BBC computers and refused to tell them what they were till my Mum arrived. After Primary school, that was eventful but can wait for another day, I went to the local Grammar school. It was the best place for me however I always felt at odds with the place. I didn’t play an instrument (I learnt the clarinet while I was there), I didn’t speak French, I was cross a lot of the time, but I had read a lot about lots of different subjects. I was predicted 10 Cs at GCSE, I came out with 3 As, 6 Bs and 1 C, the C was in French, the only subject I revised. I didn’t like school all the way from Reception to the last day of my Sixth Form; what I recognise now is that the school I went to was a rare thing, a safe haven, a place where young women were not made to feel rubbish or belittled for being clever or excelling at playing the Ocarina or for wanting to learn Latin or Swedish or being an expert in a subject field at the age of 16. For pursuing what they wanted. When I left that school and got a part time job, I started to find the world was not what it first seemed to me. I went for a Sunday manager’s job at the Portobello road branch of the shop in had worked at for 3 years. I was the best person for the job. I knew the branch, I knew procedures, I was confident in my interview and then I didn’t get the job. The reason, I wasn’t a man. They wanted a man because of the area; they told me so on the phone. I was crushed that everything else hadn’t mattered, it didn’t matter how good I was, I had failed from just biology. It was a part time job but it was unfair. I complained to Head Office and received an apology but it had tainted my view.
I went to art college and went into Fashion. I loved it. I had ideas and ideas were currency. I studied women’s fashion at UCA in Rochester (was KIAD). I then went into buying and worked in a suppliers, worked on product development for non core and footwear, travelled and enjoyed myself. I saw an old school friend for coffee one day and told her i had just come back from New York, which i had and she accused me of lies. I explained how my job worked but she refuses to believe me. Sales shaped everything. I did well and got promoted to Junior buying manager, I would have to have waited for a buyer to leave to then get promoted where I was. I also would have been pitted against the other junior buying manager too. Oddly, we both left at the same time, she to start her own business and me to retrain to be a teacher and then to raise my family.
With all this in mind and how biology should not hold anyone back I ordered the Little people, Big dreams books. Ideas, the world, grownups, amazing people’s stories viewing them and their context through the eyes of them as children. I chose the Coco Chanel book. I think she would have loved this biography more then any book written about her. My husband chose the Ella Fitzgerald book, her early life being shaped by the tragedy of the mother’s death and developing as a Jazz singer against her own backdrop of America and segregation. Amazing stories and definitely stories that need to be heard. Everyone starts life as a child, viewing the world differently to adults. I hope I’m allowing my children to both write their own stories. To be strange, different and to be a woman is not a bad thing. The below media file is the unboxing raw video of my first thoughts.