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26th June: Super Speedy Sweet & Sour Pork

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There are some things you say you’ll never do when you’re a parent.

Shout; smack; bribe; fib; force them to eat vegetables just to ‘win’ a tea time battle; get drunk and breast feed; get drunk and dance about with them til you fall over cackling before realising they’re actually squished underneath you; get drunk and climb into their bed ‘cos you just love them soooo much’. Then get cross when they wake up….

Sorry, is there a theme developing??

I also told myself I’d never be a pushy parent.

Today was the boys’ preschool Sports Day.

On the way there I lectured them both on how it was all about taking part and having fun. Everyone needs to have a turn at winning, I told them. They weren’t to get upset if they didn’t come first.

The kids sat in their little groups, the parents and grandparents milled around chin wagging about village politics – litter levels, dog poo levels etc etc. The first group of children took their places for the hurdles race. “Ah, how sweet” we all titter. Some of the very little ones stand stock still, bewildered by all the shouting. Some don’t have a clue what they’re meant to be doing and just burst into tears. “Aw, well tried darling” come the supportive voices from the crowd.

Fusspot takes his place on the starting line. He’s up against some big ones. Strictly entre nous I wouldn’t have put money on him on this occasion. He’s a determined little thing. I have empathy for him. I was a permanent second place to my big brother too. He gives it some welly and comes third. Little honeypie. He’s very chuffed with himself.

The Big One takes his place in the hurdles line up. He’s about a foot taller than everyone else. He has a look of steely determination on his face. The whistle blows and they’re off. He goes for it and streaks over the finish line in first place. “YES” I yell, punching the air. Oops. So it would seem that I am some glory-crazed soccer mom after all. Who knew??

The boys had asked me to take my trainers so I could run in the mum’s race. I couldn’t seem to find them. That’s because they’ve been lost in the loft since last October when I last exerted myself physically I must have erm, left them in my gym locker.

The parents line up ready. The Big One scans the line for me. I had promised him I’d do it. I kick off my birkies and prepare to run barefoot. One of my friends decides to join me. “We can run together” she says. “Whatever” I think. Some of the dads are clearly viewing this as a public test of their virility. A bit of jostling followed by a false start. We line up again. I am quick off the mark, I leave my friend for dust. She’s outraged as she eventually crosses the line. I had to do it you see, last year The Big One cried because I came last. Another friend of mine had comforted me with the kind observation that I’d done well considering all the other mums were ten years younger than me. Cow.

For tea we have Sweet and Sour Pork. When I first saw this recipe I was repulsed. But curious too as it had had such good reviews online. It’s from Good Food magazine and involves putting all the ingredients – tomato ketchup, muscavado sugar, vinegar, chopped pork, peppers, onion, garlic, carrots – into a Pyrex dish and blasting it in the microwave for eight minutes. You then add in some tinned pineapple and mange tout and blast again for four minutes. This sort of cooking sings to me when I’m stuck for time. I serve it with some Straight to Wok noodles.

The kids poke at it and pretend to be Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda by making noodle moustaches. I barely notice as I am googling Junior Sports Academies 😉 Speedy grub for my Speedy Gonzaleses… 7/10.

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