Monday, 13 October 2014

Tiptoeing up the Learning Curve

When I used to do a school run every evening, a question that used to pop up a lot (from me, of course) was "Have you learnt anything today?" Said in a hopeful tone, it generally elicited the following responses: 70% of the time they either grunted or completely ignored me, 20% of the time gossip from school or entertainingly, one child would dob another. The final 10% was the best though, with some actual learning having taken place which they were prepared to share.

Learning new stuff every day is really important. When I was a secondary school governor, I would sit in meetings listening to folks using words that were a mystery to me or using acronyms that I had not heard of. I would dutifully write them down and then look them up on the internet when I got home (unless I had to vote on something involving both in which case I would put my hand up and ask.) I am quite sure that there were some relieved faces round the table when I did this who had as much clue as I had, but didn't want to look like a numpty...

I love trivia too (I am after all married to a member of a Thursday night quiz team and his specialist subject is Thunderbirds!). So little things like where did Bing Crosby die, which monarch's last words (allegedly) were "I die with Calais written on my heart" and what did Ian Paisley call his dog are also entertaining for me. Answers at the bottom, in case you're interested...

So the point of this is that there is a fairly steep learning curve going on for all of us at present. Number 4 is learning lots of 'ologies for her first lot of nursing exams later this term. She has also learnt how to dress as a baby for her netball club initiation... still no pictures, I am noting! Number 3 is learning to be a student - note to self: must remember to ask him if he has changed his sheets yet as we are now in week 5. Number 2 is learning to organise a wedding - a venture in which I apparently have a voice but not a vote. She's doing it brilliantly, of course, so no need for me to interfere... yet! And number 1 is learning to sign the whole of her script for Call the Midwife (the only sign language she knows, as far as I am aware, is a whole range of swear words which will probably not be required for family viewing before the watershed on Christmas Day) and how to pant and groan in childbirth.

My beloved is learning to do all sorts of stuff which usually is done by me. Most recently, he has had to take up the mantle of being chief carer to the dogs, of which the junior one has had an ear infection. I booked the appointment at the vets but it was immediately post-chemo so I was bed-bound and my beloved had to go in my stead. Normally he and the dogs pretend that each other don't exist but clearly this had to change. So then he announced that he assumed going to the vets was like taking the car in for service. You drop it off and come back several hours later when the work had been done. No, I said, it is like taking a seven year old to the dentist (he didn't do that either - with any of them!). You stay, hold their paw and murmur sympathetically. He actually had to go three times and now he and Bobbie (junior dog) have moved on from ignoring each other to regarding the other with deep suspicion.

And as for me... I am learning to be compliant and obedient although I do ask a lot of questions - what does that do, what are the side-effects, can I still drink (apparently yes, but the only thing I am enjoying drinking at the moment is sherry - and trust me, I have tried all sorts of things!) and last week, why did you say my heart sounded "squelchy" and is that a good thing? In the last week, I have had (and it was brilliant, thank you, Julie Crossman) two lots of reflexology - no idea how it works but it makes me feel better so I don't need to know, one lot of lymphoedema physio - I had cords in my arms that needed popping to give me full movement for the purposes of sport next year - again, no idea how it worked but it did and finally an ECG using ultrasound - which is when the squelchy comment was made. My heart has now been measured and given a baseline ready for the further atrocities in the future. So that's where we are.

Finally, what I am learning most of all is that I have (as if I didn't already know) THE BEST FAMILY AND FRIENDS and I undoubtedly live in the most caring and kind village. I optimistically hoped people to be wonderful at the start, but thought they might then forget about me.  But this is a marathon, not a sprint and yet I am still getting lovely messages, cards and gifts for which I am truly grateful and in awe of you all. Thank you, each and everyone.

Answers (in case you're interested):

1   Bing Crosby died on the eighteenth hole of La Moraleja Golf Course, Madrid where he had a heart attack and died instantly. I have my name down for such a demise.

2   Queen Mary - in her reign England lost its final foothold in France.

3   Bishop - so he could say "Sit, Bishop!" "Lie down, Bishop!" etc - for obvious reasons!

Bing with Grace Kelly in one of my favourite films, High Society

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