Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Endangered pets

The glamorous neighbour has jetted off to Northern Ireland to visit family and doesn't seem to have learnt from the sea monkey incident, when the then-three-year old gave the tank a shake to liven them up. They didn't seem any worse for it, but it took me a while to recover.

So when the glamorous neighbour knocked on the door late one night and asked if I'd mind looking after the stick insects for a week, I really ought to have said no. Perhaps I didn't learn much, either.

It's going well so far - they're low maintenance and the kids love helping. We spray inside the tank every day and put a few sprigs of foliage in every other day for the beasties to chomp on. I haven't yet spotted any of the insects, nor the eggs that the glamorous neighbour says are in there...low maintenance, but boring!

They're not eating the foliage very quickly. The glamorous neighbour didn't say anything about clearing out the older foliage, so the tank is beginning to resemble a jungle. The four year old and I were peering in there today and I made the mistake of mentioning it.

"Easy," he said, reaching for the lid. "I'll throw some in the bin, Mummy."

With reactions that Superman would be proud of, I grabbed his hand just before he began plundering. Maybe I have learnt something after all - to guard against the four year old. But perhaps next time I'll just say No to pet-sitting...

Falling before the hurdles...

One of the first tips when entering competitions is to read the rules properly. I'm a  bit obsessive about that - I find myself scrutinising what font size to use, and how to format my work. But I made a massive mistake when I entered a children's story competition, and I'm not quite sure how it happened.

Perhaps I only read the theme in the overview of competitions that arrived in January, though I think I read it a few times in the magazine when the competition was open, too, as I remember rewriting some of it to fit the brief. So perhaps I just misunderstood.

The details mentioned an untraditional family, and being a bit of a plank that day, I didn't interpret that as a stepfamily. I wrote a story I was proud of, as it's not a genre I'm keen on, nor drawn to, but I worked hard on it, and it made my eight year old laugh. It probably wasn't very original; it was about a little boy, Jack, whose stay-at-home mum returned to work with glee, leaving Dad in charge - just before Jack's birthday. Not impressed that Dad was in charge of the party, he and his little sister started a campaign to sack Dad and reinstate Mum. 

As soon as I saw the winning entry in the magazine, I could have kicked myself - my story was never on the right lines. I'm so disappointed in myself, but it's a reminder to read carefully before you write. I've just completed the October and November's stories, (leaving me with only one to go!) but before I send them, I'm going study the details one more time.

 I never thought I'd say it, but there is something worse than failing because you're not good enough:  failing because you weren't careful enough. Grr!