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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

England's Football Lionesses are "going back to being mothers" - the FA's own goal

If you blinked, you might have missed it.  Yesterday the FA welcomed the England Women's Football Team on their return from the World Cup with the following tweet (which was rapidly deleted).

It read "Our #Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title - heroes."

The author of the tweet, James Callow, Content Editor at the Football Association rejected any allegation of sexism. He said, on his own Twitter account, "the piece is intended to sum up a nice moment when players are reunited with their families. Human interest is a big part of any sports reporting. I'd have done the same for England men, absolutely."

This did nothing, however, to avert the media storm which led to the tweet being featured on the front page of the Metro and covered on other media outlets such as Sky. Allegations of sexism and patronisation of the women by the FA flew.

My take is that the tweet was badly worded but unfortunately hinted at what mothers suspect some men really think of professional women - that their jobs, their vocations, their sporting activities are something done to pass the time when not up to their ears in dirty nappies and pureed fruit.

Are women still defined primarily by whether or not they are a mother?

I have never seen news coverage which suggested that the England Squad were "going back to being fathers" after their last (dismal) World Cup attempt.  Nor have I seen male soldiers returning to greet their families to speculation about the amount of DIY waiting for them to get their teeth into.

I worked for over 20 years before having my kids, reaching director level in the last law firm in which I was employed.  Now, I'm a full time mum and there are some who really don't know how to pigeon-hole me.  Am I just a drain on the tax-payer (even though I contributed since the age of 17)? Is my value to society reduced because I am not inputting data in an office somewhere?

I'm sure many of my fellow Stay-At-Home-Mums are familiar with the echoing silence that occurs in conversation when they are asked what they do and reply "oh, I'm at home full time with the kids".

We can't win either way can we?  It sometimes seems as if we're neither valued as mothers or employees (or entrepreneurs!).

Just because I currently am lucky enough to be able to raise my kids full time does not mean that I have become a one-dimensional, cardboard cut-out unable to contribute in other areas.

Has anyone ever asked JK Rowling when she is going to stop writing and go back to being a mother?

Mothers, whether working or not, are all raising the next generation which is endless, tiring but ultimately life-affirming and beyond value.

This does NOT mean that we are unable to stand shoulder to shoulder to our male peers in every sphere - whether professional or sport.

And this is not a feminist rant.  I am not tarring all men with the same brush.  Today men are often as likely to be at home raising kids as their partners - and risk the same social alienation and identity issues as women.

But implicit in that misguided tweet is the fact that even in 2015 women are somehow expected to choose what they want to be famous for.

The legacy of the Lionesses in this World Cup has been to bring women's football home to many of us who previously haven't taken that much notice of it, all without flash cars, ridiculous pay packets and falling out of nightclubs.

The FA might want to take a look at its definition of  "sportsmanship" - and avoid any future own goals.

Monday, 6 July 2015

6 reasons to take your child to the optician

Ieuan has morphed seamlessly out of his Spiderman phase (at the point, obviously where we have just invested in a new costume for him) into his new alter ego of Harry Potter.

No, the scar probably isn't accurate!
We have just watched the entire box set of Harry Potter DVDs and we were all totally transfixed. Mind you, given the number of pairs of glasses Harry breaks during the series I hope he had them insured.

This has led to Ieuan wandering around in an old wizard robe from his cousins and sporting a very fetching Potter-esque scar (black eye liner - well I've given up trying to do that cat-eye eyeliner thing so I may as well use it for something).  His new most precious possessions are his Harry Potter glasses and wand.

There is a certain degree of irony in the fact that he happily wears these glasses all day and is delighted now I have given him an old glasses case to keep them in.  I started to wear glasses at age 11 - the old-style, black NHS frame - and I hated them.  I still hate wearing glasses to this day due to my OCD but the difference in frames, both in terms of materials used and styles, is vast.  Both the Husband and I are short-sighted so the likelihood is that both Caitlin and Ieuan will end up wearing glasses or contact lenses.  Perhaps they may even opt for laser eye surgery - something which didn't exist back in the days when I was struggling to see the blackboard in 1975!

In fact, opticians Optical Express advise that children should have an annual eye exam, even if they are not yet wearing spectacles and there are several very good reasons for this. Children can be tested at any age but children's eyes are fully developed by the time they are 8 years old so it is very important to have any problems detected before this, not least because, if left undetected for too long, some sight defects cannot be corrected.

Nowadays only 60% of schools provide eye tests and, even then, this is not a full eye test.  Distance vision is checked but the test may not pick up all levels of long-sight and an eye exam carried out by a registered Optometrist is advisable.

You should also consider the following:-

The eye exam will check general health, not just that of the eye.

Any defect in vision can be picked up and quickly rectified.

Poor vision may impact on learning in school - your child may not be able to see the whiteboard clearly, for example, and you are unlikely to know this without the benefit of an eye exam.

Excessive use of iPads and too much 'screen time' may lead to tired eyes, eye strain and headaches - which may impact on vision.

Eye infections and eye injuries (such as a foreign body in the eye) are better diagnosed by opticians than by your GP (who will not have the equipment needed to thoroughly examine the eye).

Glasses are no longer 'uncool' - there is a great range of child friendly spectacles.

All children under 16 qualify for an NHS voucher entitling them to a free eye test. If your child needs glasses they will also qualify for an NHS voucher that enables them to choose free glasses from a selected range or most opticians will have a budget friendly range of glasses for kids.

Caitlin goes into Year 3 in September and Ieuan starts Year 2.  I'll be getting both their eyes tested, just in case, although I hope that they both have a few more years' glasses free.

It's best to be on the safe side, though, isn't it?

This is a collaborative post.
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