The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.


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Life in a Goldfish Bowl

It all started with a woodlouse named Rosie.

Well, actually, if I am being honest, it all started with me trying to throw away a ‘bug catching’ net.

“You never use it,” I said.

“I do,” the Girl replied.

“It’s been lying forgotten on the conservatory floor for weeks,” I argued, while at the same time cursing my lack of cleaning in The House of the Spiders conservatory.

With that, she dashed outside to the green house and stood on precariously on the outskirts daring herself to venture inside.  Ha!  I thought.  She won’t go in there alone and she knows the green house is not my territory. Many a clothes peg has been left abandoned near the dilapidated glass house due to my seeing an arachnid and fleeing.

Grinning at her from the window, she glanced over at me and raised her bug catching net.  In a flash, she ran, flew by me and delivered a low blow.

“Daddy!” she yelled at the bottom of the stairs.

“Yes, my princess,” came the dulcet tones of The Other Half.

“Will you come catch some bugs with me?”

“Of course, my princess.”

Bugger.  She won.

Tonight, there would be one more bug under my roof.

I watched them for a while as they hunted for bugs.  If I am being honest, it was lovely to watch Daddy, the Dude and my Girl in the garden playing because the weather in Yorkshire has been pretty dismal.  Our time in the garden has been lacking of late and due to the rain, the humidity and the fact that we live next to fields, the weeds have taken control and are holding our lawn to ransom.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that a new tropical rain forest has started to sprout and we may be held responsible for the conservation of some major wildlife species in the local area.

“Mum!  Mum!  I’ve got a new pet!”

My stomach churned.

Don’t be a spider.  Don’t be a spider.  Don’t be a spider.

“I’ve got a woodlouse.”

My girl held up a clear plastic container complete with breathing holes.

Ladied and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Rosie.

“It’s my new pet.  I am going to call her Rosie.”

Yeah, my heart melted a little bit.

“Daddy is going to get her some dead leaves to eat.”

So Rosie was welcomed into the family.  She sat with us at dinner.  She chowed down on a dock leaf while we dined on pasta.  She sat next to me during bath time, watched as we wrestled the kids into their pajamas and perched on the head board as ‘The Twitching Hour’ (bedtime) began.

Finally, as the children fell asleep, the room darkened and I put each child in their respective beds. The woodlouse remain above mine.  Forgotten.

It wasn’t until I was dozing at 11pm when I snapped awake remembering that Rosie was lurking nearby.

Luckily, I had The Other Half to protect me.

Oh, the fun we have in our house…

The following morning arrived and there was a worry that Rosie wasn’t moving.  We reassured our Girl that she was sleeping and encouraged her to go to school.

All was well.

After school however, the truth had to come out.  I found Rosie on her back with her little legs stiffly sticking up and told The Other Half to break the news.

“I am afraid Rosie has died,” he said in is softest voice.

She burst into tears and fell upon the bed.  Once again, my heart melted.

I recalled my first experience of death; it was when our family Jack Russell, Ben, died when I was eight.  I read somewhere that the true understanding of death for a child is usually when a family pet passes.  Despite this being a sad experience for any child, it can be used to teach a youngster about death and how to deal with it.  I just couldn’t have my daughter’s first experience of death being an upturned woodlouse on a dead leaf so I made a promise:

“We’ll get you a gold fish,” I said.

With that, Rosie was tossed onto the bed.

“I’m getting a goldfish!” the Girl yelled before scurrying out of the room.

I would have followed, but I was busy retrieving a dead woodlouse from my pillow.

The weekend arrived.  And what followed was a series of threats.

“If you don’t eat your toast, you won’t get a goldfish,”

“If you don’t have morning wee, you won’t get a goldfish,”

“If you don’t get dressed for ballet, you won’t get a goldfish,”

After five minutes of chasing my naked daughter around a room lassoing a ballet skirt around my head, she was finally dressed for ballet.”

“Can I get a goldfish now?” she asked.

My response should have been: “Well, actually no you can’t because after kicking off about not having your own plate of toast, you refused to eat it, you then cried until you got a ‘breakfast’ Jelly Baby.  Then there was the refusal to go to the toilet and the refusal to get dressed, which resulted in me pulling you out of the bathroom (where Daddy was) by your legs and you kicking me while I was trying to get you to step into your leotard.”

What I actually said was: “Yes, you can have a goldfish after ballet.”

“Oh, I hate ballet.”

She actually loved ballet and was beaming when I picked her up. We were going to get a fish.

When arriving at ‘Pets at Home’, we steered her around all fluffy animals and all the critters that cost more than £2.50 each. We came to a stop at the goldfish bowls, picked the smallest, picked our plants and went to find an assistant.

“You can buy everything now except the goldfish,” a lady advised. “The tank has to be active for three days.”

Placidly, The Other Half replied ‘OK’, and paid for the goods.

Once outside I said: “You have no intention of waiting three days do you?”

“Nope,” came the reply.

One McDonalds later and we were home setting up the tank. Now, to give The Other Half his dues, he does his research before purchasing anything and the tank was cleaned, prepped and set up.

A few hours passed and we were on our way to our local garden centre. Two fish were picked (a bargain at £2 each) and we were on our way home again.

An hour later and the fish had a new home.

“Mine is called Petal and my brother’s is called Sam,” the Girl declared.

After three, look at the camera and say ‘fish’.

With the fish perched high upon the sideboard, the Dude didn’t appear to care that his sister had named his fish for him. He was more concerned with licking the spilt Fruitshoot from the rug.
I forced the two to come together for the obligatory ‘look what we’ve done this weekend’ picture for Facebook and I could see the excitement begin to drain from my Girl’s eyes.

“I want a dog, Mummy,”

I glanced over at the fish and was thankful for their seven second memory span. The poor things.

I glanced at the Dude who was happily filling up a pink toy pram with faux coal from the defunct fireplace and I was thankful that the only thing he knew about fish was how to eat a battered one.

I glanced at the pile of ironing I was about to embark upon and then back at my lovely, sweet, gorgeous and ungrateful little girl.

Shaking my head, tears began to fall.  They were not mine.

“Mummy, I want a dog. Will you get me one tomorrow?”

Daddy taking no nonsense and me realising she probably needs a belt.

I thought then of Rosie, poor, sweet dead Rosie. She would be turning over in her grave at the thought of her owner’s fickleness. Well, at least she would be if she hasn’t died on her back with her legs up in the air.

RIP Rosie.

I guess I will be the one feeding the fish and cleaning them out.

Could always give them to the Dude to eat.

“What do you mean ‘it’s called Sam’?”

Can you believe you’ve read at least 500 words about a dead wood louse?!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear


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A  Half Term, A Head Injury and Two Hospitals

A darkness washes over you when your children are ill.  Until four years ago, it was a feeling I was yet to experience, and thankfully, it is a feeling that I have not felt very often.  My children, thank God, are healthy, but they do get ill – just like any child.

23rd of October and half term was finally upon us.  In a half term that saw me take both children into my school in order to avoid sitting in a traffic jam and being late, speak to the whole of Year 8 in assembly and refer to them as Year 7 throughout and, while at a Heads of English meeting, being caught with my phone out as a deputy head from another school asked me a question and Siri answered for me by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking me’, I was ready for a little break.

I picked the munchkins up from nursery early and took them home to partake in some late afternoon crafts Peppa.  I had already told the Other Half to bring home fish, chips and lager and my 64 Year 8 assessments were to remain in the boot of my car for the evening. 

The girl and I were on the sofa and The Dude was happily pulling himself up on various pieces of furniture when suddenly there was an almighty bang. I was too slow. My little Dude was screaming because he had hit his head hard on the TV stand. Picking him up, I cuddled him for a couple of minutes to stop the crying (the girl was complaining about not being able to hear the Bing Bong Song) and when I looked at his head, my stomach hit the floor as a purple egg had formed instantly on his head. Now, I am no stranger to bumps and, in the past, I tried to treat an egg on my girl’s head.  I slapped butter on it and a pom pom hat on it in the hope that it might disappear in a ‘if you can’t see it then it’s not really there’ kind of way.  This failed as when the Other Half questioned why she was wearing a woolly hat in August, I confessed all and was made to feel very guilty. Accidents NEVER happen on his watch…Anyway, the Other Half’s arrival was imminent and once he arrived home, we called 101 and asked for advice on bumps.

Unsurprisingly, we were told to go to hospital for a check up; with the local hospital only five minutes away, we happily obliged in order to put our minds at ease.

‘I’ll take him, we won’t be long.’ I said. ‘Keep the fish and chips hot and the lager cold.’

Famous last words.

Upon arrival at the hospital, we were seen within half an hour, given the all clear and was told by a young doctor that we could leave. The Dude was in good spirits and was crawling under curtains and spying on a pre-teen being measured up for a pot.  Nurses cooed over my boy’s blue eyes and nodded with empathy when I explained that the bump had brought our little family evening to a halt. 

The purple egg formed instantly

Then another doctor approached.

‘Oh, so this is the crawling baby everyone is talking about,’ 

Yes, my baby is crawling. This means he’s ok, surely?

‘We’re just looking into getting him a bed.’

‘A bed?’ I questioned.

‘He needs to be monitored and we need to speak to you about safe guarding.’

‘I know all about safe guarding,’ I said. ‘I’m a teacher. Are you monitoring him or checking me?’

‘Oh brilliant, a teacher,’ he said. Was he being sarcastic?

After being allowed a phone call home, we settled in for the night. My boy and I ate bread and jam and custard and played. By this time, it was well after 6 and the bedtime hour was approaching. That’s when I was handed a letter. 

‘A bed is ready for you at Pinderfields,’ a nurse said.

‘Pinderfields?’ I questioned.

Yes, I was being sent to another hospital. At this point, I could feel myself holding back the tears. 

‘Can go home to let my partner know?’ 

‘No,’

‘Can I phone my mum then?’

Everyone wants their mum when they’re upset.

I was allowed the phone call and in front of the doctors and nurses, I cried when I asked her to come and meet me at the other hospital.

As we were leaving, the doctor said:

‘At least you’re not leaving in handcuffs…yet.’ He smiled, he was trying to lighten the mood. He failed.  Miserably.

Half an hour later and I was looking for a white Qashqai in a busy hospital car park. Every bugger has a Qashqai these days, but I eventually spotted my Mum’s number plate and we parked up next to each other.

We were directed to the Children’s Assessment Unit where we we had to wait for the doctor.  Around me, I noticed other sick children and we all had one thing in common: we wanted to go home. One boy, I noticed, was alone; I overheard him tell someone that he had an appendicitis and that he was waiting for his mum. 

After an hour a doctor came and questioned me, checked my boy’s head and shone a torch on his body to look for a ‘rash’, when I say ‘rash’, it was obvious that he was looking for bruising. Patiently, I answered all of his questions and it was a little distressing especially when you know that you would never hurt your child, however, the doctor was doing his job and I would much rather him be meticulous than not care at all.  Clearly, it became obvious that it was all just a clumsy accident and he told me that I could leave at 10pm. It was 8.45pm.

My stomach was rumbling, my boy was tired, my fish and chips were so far beyond my reach that I had forgotten what a battered fish looked like. What were we going to do for an hour?  I decided that we would play. And when I say ‘play’ I mean we unintentionally annoyed the other patients around us. The Dude started pushing a loud beeping helicopter around the floor and I probably scared and scarred the poor appendicitis patient by telling him that ‘all the best people have their appendix out’ before showing him the very old jagged scar on my stomach.  A passing nurse raised an eyebrow at me and assured the boy that he would be on the receiving end of less evasive key hole surgery. Oops. 

Funnily enough, five minutes later we were allowed to leave (perhaps the scar should have had an earlier outing). By this time it was way after 10pm and the boy was wide awake in his car seat. We made our way out to the dark car park and I subsequently then spent five minutes pulling on a black car door that wasn’t mine. Damn Qashqais  – I told you every bugger has one.

It was a tiring week filled with hospitals, high temps and sickness

The culprit (the TV stand, not my girl!)