Right, mood over, onwards and upwards. (It isn't of course, but I'm boring myself writing about it so heaven knows what it's doing to anyone else reading this...)
Onto far more important matters. No, not chocolate - though now you mention it, I was amazed at the supermarket today to see the shelves of offerings from premium brands not decreasing in the current straitened economic atmosphere, but increasing in size. A quick check on Ocado (not even I was not sad enough to stand in front of the chocolate fixture and write this list down. Not today, anyway...), shows that Waitrose stock the following in luxury chocolate bars: Green & Blacks, Lindt, Montezuma, Rococco, Divine, Choxi, Cote d'Or, Bendicks, Organica, Rosemarie, and Malagasy. And I'm sure there were a couple more I saw in-store that didn't make it onto the internet. The interesting thing though is that not one of them cost less than £1.50 for 100g, and some more than twice that.
It's good to know that the residents of South Kensington have their priorites straight on one thing, at least...
No, what I meant to write about, before drifting off into a lovely cocoa-scented world there for a moment was this;
Before you had children, did you see yourself as the competitive parenting type? I didn't. Sure, I knew I had that potential in myself (though perhaps less highly developed than it might be; stubborn-ness is my thing, rather than competition), but I always thought I would be much more relaxed around my children. I assumed that I would be accepting of who they were, with their own capabilities and potentials, and not turn into the type of pushy parent who make you cringe with their constant chatter about how little Jasper has been studying Kumon Maths in the holidays (what the hell is that, by the way?) and can't wait to begin advanced Latin when they start pre-school.
So far I think I've managed very well. Managed very well, that is, to fool myself. The judo? Oh, that's for co-ordination and physical activity. And besides, he enjoys it - or did after that first term of complaining. Skating? Well, it's with his friends, and why not? He'll learn to stand up sometime... The drama class for a week in the summer? Frankly darling, he would have been bored stupid with nothing to do all summer long...
You get the picture?
I've been brought up short though. Last week, I dropped Boy #1 at school and whilst fussing around with him in the classroom before making a bid for freedom, I became aware of one of his classmates sitting in the corner, reading himself a book.
Now, my son has been making OK progress with his sightwords and letter sounds (for those not based in the UK, welcome to the incomprehensible world - for anyone older than 25 - of phonic learning). He's not rushing home from school every Friday (the only day they get homework) and ripping his folder out of his bag in his eagerness to get on with it, but neither is he complaining when I suggest a short session of looking through them. And frankly, one of the reasons we chose the school he's now at is that they have no truck with hot-housing the kids, preferring instead to spend the first year or so concentrating on building social skills and doing lots of sport to increase confidence.
But one look at Boy #1's classmate reading unaccompanied and Mrs Competition jumped up, grabbed me by the throat, and started whispering in my ear. "Look at that! W is READING! Why isn't Boy #1 reading? Why is that, do you think? You need to do more with him. Remember, they get streamed next year... What, you didn't know that? You do now... Time for some extra effort, I think. Forget the skating, you should spend the next few evenings working on his sightwords..."
This is not who I want to be. It's interesting though, how wanting the best for your child and wanting your child to be the best can so easily get confused with each other. It's also interesting how, when the chips are down, you revert to the parenting style you know best; that which your parents used on you. And doing well at school - that is, being top of your class, or near it - was always something my brother, sister and I were encouraged in. Why not? It's not such a bad thing for an older child.
But Boy #1 is 5. So, with a great deal of effort, I snubbed Mrs Competitive, trod on her toes, turned around, left the school, and left her standing on the pavement as I drove off.
I know she'll be back, though. Probably when I spy Boy #1's friend trotting out of school clutching a copy of 'Lord of the Rings' later today.