Written as a draft during our visit to our local Sure Start Centre this afternoon:
"This is a post I did not intend to write.
We have come today to our local Sure Start Centre.
Sonny has an appointment for his two year review, otherwise we would not be here.
But I am currently watching the children play and noticing how fortunate they are.
The government is doing something right.
Whatever gripes I have with them, our children are being given a good start in life.
There are things available to parents and carers.
Support, childcare, milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins, books, advice, services and activities.
And they are all free, to those who need them.
Huge numbers of advice leaflets litter shelves - advice on childhood bereavement, breastfeeding, quitting smoking, domestic abuse, SIDS and safe sleep...the list is almost endless.
There are support groups for these issues as well - places we could all go to seek help if we needed to.
We are so lucky to have the healthcare service we enjoy as well.
The vaccinations, the dentistry, the developmental reviews.
We can be so quick to moan and to judge.
We find services slow, unjust and expensive.
We are reluctant to admit that, actually, we have it pretty good.
Yes, there is room for improvement.
Short-staffing presents problems as does inadequate and disparate funding.
But the hearts of these schemes are in the right place.
Our children are provided with a great start in life.
I wonder how many of us would look at our kids and use that word.
We often compare with those who have more.
But I'm putting it out there today that our children are privileged.
My two are currently engrossed in crafts - enjoying well-equipped and free resources that are available to all children in the area.
We have just been invited to stay for the free Bee Fit session that is due to start soon.
Jasmine is enrolled in nursery for 15 hours a week. This is free education and free childcare.
From September, she will be in full time education - learning daily at no cost to me or her father.
Yet we have complained at this!
Hoped for a "good" school, one that offers a rich curriculum.
We want value... for what?
It will not be costing us a penny.
Before today I had never stopped to think, seriously, that to be in line to go to ANY school is pretty special.
Yes, we may want our children to have the very best start in life, but where has this sense of entitlement come from?
Anything Jasmine and Sonny happen not to learn at school can be provided at home, or through extra-curricular activities.
It's about time we looked up and realised what we do have, before it's gone.
It's about time I was a bit more grateful, at least."
For more on Sure Start, read here and here.