The Ministry of Justice has published details of how its new child super-prisons ("secure colleges") will be run. Sold as all about putting "education at the heart of custody", the plans are scant on detail about how children will be helped via education and health services, but contain 15 astonishing pages on discipline, punishment and control.
Last Thursday evening the unbelievable happened. An awards ceremony took place in the House of Commons for body confidence. No need for a red carpet or pomp and circumstance. No male politicians driving agendas to win elections. Just a group of individuals of all shapes and sizes, fighting for the right for us all 'to be ourselves'...
You might already feel guilty just for getting pregnant if you're not married and you've been brought up by that type of family. Or for ditching your work without an adequate handover when you bugger off for maternity leave (because who cares when your pelvis is falling apart and you can't pull your pants up properly).
If there was a parenting rulebook, I would unashamedly campaign for this to be in the top 5; because if it offends some parent, somewhere, to be challenged on this point, I'd suggest they put their reproductive organs in some blending device and feed them to the family dog...because they shouldn't use them for anything else.
I have never seen any dads in the hub. Not even partners. The hub is usually a child-free zone too, a place of mothers in conversation while their children fend for themselves. This day there were lots of crying and distressed pre-school children who needed the attention of scattered lone parents, before their actual parent in the hub noticed.
Doubt and fear of getting it wrong must play on people's minds even if they are worried. Often there are no obvious, physical signs of neglect. But if a child you know shows signs of not being fed or clothed properly, is missing school a lot or is left unsupervised and alone inappropriately for their age, we urge people to alert the professionals. I remember speaking to Claire [not her real name], one of our many fantastic foster carers. She has been looking after a 15-year-old boy who came into her care about two years ago, having suffered years of neglect. She spoke of how he looked like an 'eight-year-old' because he had been so badly underfed...
Having been one of those parents who had practiced this many times, until someone gently pointed out how I was coming across, I've now stopped. This one time I'm talking about is when I've said 'I'm sorry' but what I really wanted was relief from my own uncomfortable feelings of being a dysfunctional parent or to be allayed of my guilt.
I used to vex about how happy my children were, and still do sometimes, but with experience I've come to realise that their fundamental needs are very simple. They want to be heard, loved and given some special time. If I give them these three things every day, they thrive. So I do everything I can to ensure I make that happen and I know I'm investing in their happiness.
The world we live in makes it easier to eat more and do less. Our environment offers us triggers to eat at every corner, which requires effort to resist and a conscious ongoing commitment to being healthier. Indeed, the latest research found that so-called mindless eating can cause significant weight gain.
As I recalled my earliest memories I was keen to impress on the group that I don't look back and see my time in foster care as a negative, my expression wasn't from feeling sorry for myself, I completely understand that in the absence of my biological father, my very young mother, too young to even consider a woman would want to get herself together after having me at the age of 15 and, in some respects I think it was very brave decision to take. I didn't say this in front of the room of kids but I'd prefer to be fostered than to have been aborted and to not have had the privilege of life in the first place!
Recently an 11-year-old son of a friend was killed by his mentally ill father. An ex-colleague of mine was diagnosed with cancer last November and he died in January; there were Facebook statuses and then they stopped. And now I have a tumour... My darling children, how I hope that you will not have to go through life without me!