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Census and sensibilities

April 1, 2011

I must admit I puzzled over the Census. What on earth do you do if you don’t have a traditional nuclear family? We have two adults who are permanent residents, and a floating population of four children, with two separate other homes. So sometimes we are six, sometimes four. Sometimes we are two. And often any number in between, what with sleepovers and my teenagers’ incesssant quest to escape the building chaos by billeting themselves with anyone else who’ll have them.

It also wasn’t clear whether we were only talking about people who were staying in the house on the fateful census day. The questions said ‘usually’. Well, we are ‘usually’ four. On census day, as it happened, we were two. But the day before we had been seven. And I wasn’t sure whether I should be filling the form in anyway on behalf of Mr X, who after all usually lives outside the country and might not have felt co-operative with the UK powers that be. So I sat down and filled in six whole different people. What is the relationship of Number 6 to Numbers 5,4,3,2 and 1? By the time I’d got to this point my head was not just swimming, it was doing the butterfly stroke. And then I had doubts. Well, possibly they were raised by actually reading the small print on the back page, which said children with more than one home should be registered in the home they were in at the time of the census. So I threw the whole lot in the bin and did a simplified version online.

It does make you think. Life is very complicated. Life as a parent and step parent is even more complicated. And by the way, when do you tick the box for ‘step parent’ and when do you tick for ‘unrelated’? Is it just a state of mind, or a marital status thing? I have no idea.

This makes the quest for love second time round seem even braver. I won’t say stupider, though sometimes that’s how it feels. Anyway, luckily Donna Air is not quite as cynical. The TV actress and MTV presenter has just started a blog, which is to appear on eHarmony.co.uk about her dating experiences. I must say I am looking forward to reading it. It’s hard to imagine that Donna has ever had a moment’s trouble in getting a date – look at the picture below, for heaven’s sake – but presumably she’s got a book’s worth of tales. I’ve heard some horrific stories from friends who’ve tried internet dating – the man who habitually cut up bras is just one – so I’ll be interested to see who Donna encountered on her travels. And whether she succeeded in finding Mr Right. Hope she did, I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Obviously.

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  • Bluestockingmum April 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hi there

    Just been catching up.

    Yes, I hadn’t thought of how complicated the census can be for some families. Very true.

    As for dating, I admire people who have a go at online dating. I have a couple of friends who have tried it and had fun – no stalkers or bunny boilers in their experiences – but I suspect if it was me, I’d be by myself for a very long time rather than try it. Not brave enough. I might do better at Sainsbury’s on a Friday night – singles night at the supermarket 😉

    xx

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

      Is that really true about Sainsbury’s on a Friday night? I have never tried it but had heard about men hanging around the freezer cabinets in the hope of seeing women’s more, shall we say, outstanding features! Heard about it but never actually seen that either, I hope it’s an urban myth …. in fact it’s quite put me off going to the supermarket …

  • Trish@ Mum's Gone to April 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I was grateful we only have two adults and one child in our household – the census was complicated enough! I agree, the online version was easier, especially for the ‘relationship between each person’ bit. I take my hat off to you that you managed to complete it.

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

      The relationships bit was ridiculous, particularly for the 4-year-old. And religion! At least that one was optional. Child two was cross that I didn’t put Jedi for her religion. She’d heard that if 100k people put Jedi, then it would have to be taught in schools as an official religion!

  • Kate April 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Got confused at the section called third person and fourth person. My son age 9? Daughter 7? Had filled out the previous questions about them, what more could be said about children their age? Oh right “What is your religion? But hang on, the form asked for their marital status. Decided children didn’t need to fill that in, then wasn’t sure, so finally called and was put through a million taped suggestions to questions that I didn’t need answers to before finally speaking to a real person who said “put never been married” Then added, “We’ve had lots of people confused about this” so didn’t feel so quite so stupid, well maybe a bit! On the other hand, they can’t get married for a while yet.

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

      The marital status one was really bizarre. I did go for the ‘never been married’ option but it seemed a bit mean to be putting them all on the shelf at their tender ages! Hope they rethink that one next time.

  • Jody Brettkelly April 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Just realised I’ve never filled out a census form, so who has done it for me? Oops. One of my kids presumably. Maybe Cy, seven. Love the “never married” reply of the phone answerer…who writes these form?. Am heading over to your friends blog – love dating stories. It’s slim picking here in the East Bay(US) for my three single friends who have some real doozers of stories.

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 4, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Could you get your kids to fill in the next census for me, too, please? Cy will be 17 next time so it’ll be a breeze …. I’d love to hear your friends’ dating stories. Situation pretty much the same in London for women but of course you’re in clover as a man, friend’s recently divorced brother is fighting them off with a big stick 😉

  • Addy April 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Evil thought………Perhaps we should have all checked into a hotel for the weekend and then they would have had a negative response!

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 4, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Ha, good plan, though I keep hearing dire warnings on the radio of fines for people who haven’t filled theirs in, you might have been caught out …. I think they should have space for pets, they’re members of the household too 🙂