The Teaching Mum

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


Sun + Water = Paddling Fool

Wednesday 1st July – The Hottest Day of the Year…so far.

After another rubbish night’s sleep, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed hot, sluggish and with the Ninja Flippin’ Dude next to me.  To say that I woke up would be very wrong.  As always, I was woken by the girl banging on the door demanding to be let in.  Daddy, fresh from the shower, opened the door for her and she came bounding in Fruit Shoot in hand.

‘I want something to watch!’ she demanded.
‘Shhh, your brother is asleep.’
She whispered: ‘I want something to…’ and then shouted: ‘watch!’
She looked at her brother.
‘Look, he’s awake now.’
I screamed into my pillow as the Other Half waltzed back in and unknowingly annoyed me further by saying:
‘You won’t be able to get the paddling pool out today.  It’s too difficult to manoeuvre because the lawn is on a slope.  You have to position it and prop it up with stuff so that it doesn’t over flow.  I wouldn’t bother if I was you.’  He was only trying to help.  In hindsight, I should have listened.  I didn’t  Today was scheduled to be a scorcher.  I’ll show you. I thought.

I didn’t.

It was nursery day for the girl so after dropping her off, my plan was to sit in the garden with my boy and enjoy my last week of maternity leave.  I thought I would be also attempt to be Super Mum by getting the paddling pool out for her to enjoy after nursery.

Last year, Asda were selling big paddling pools for a tenner and so not to miss out on a bargain, we decided to buy one.  Only we couldn’t.  Every single bloody Asda near us had sold out. We ended up forking out about £35 on one from Smyths.  It was huge.  We didn’t think the purchase through as five hours after pulling it from its box, it was still filling up.  We only used it once last summer so I thought it was time to dust off the literal cobwebs and get it out again for the hottest day of the year.  Granddad came and took the boy out for a walk at 11am so I seized the opportunity to sort out the pool whilst I had the house to myself even though the vacuum was out, the washing needed hanging out and the breakfast bowls were still in the sink.  (You can clearly see where my priorities lay.) I just had to brave the garage.  

The garage, for me, is unknown territory.  I don’t go in at all as legend tells that there are spiders the size of horses in there; it has even been noted that some carry shields and swords.  Wearing my shorts, vest and flip flops, my only form of protection came from some gardening gloves so I was not unarmed.  Upon entering the garage, it was like the home to a long lost tribe.  There were chairs scattered around, a TV (plugged in) perched upon a large container and the remnants of old toys long since forgotten.  There was a sledge, buckets and spades, curtain rails, sun loungers, a boxed up bouncy castle, two bikes and the dead rotting corpse of a spider splattered on the wall.  The Other Half must have, at one time, won a battle with it.  However, they were clearly winning the war, as I could see webs hanging precariously from above and some were woven neatly among the abandoned furniture and toys.  Then I spotted the box.  The paddling pool was boxed up gathering dust under the curtain poles and some discarded bits of carpet.  Using my gloved hands, I tried to pull it over towards the door, but alas it was too heavy.  I had to lift things and move things before I could pick up the box.  Closing my eyes, I squealed picked it up, ran for the door and threw it in a heap on the grass and then hastily stepped on anything that crawled or fell from the box.  It was mostly crumpled up old leaves, but sword wielding spiders sounds better.

We wrestled these from a spider earlier.

The Other Half’s wise words whispered in my ears: ‘The garden is on a slope.’  I dragged the pool to the flattest point of the garden and opened it up.  I then started to blow it up.  Forty five minutes later, I was still blowing it up.  I won’t bore you with the detail but if you could see me, I was sitting crossed legged on the grass, blowing the pool up inbetween batting away flies and jumping up and screaming every time a wasp or hornet came within five feet of me.  I don’t know if you can tell this, but I am not an outdoorsy person.

Next bit was the hose.  Dragging it out of the garage, I switched it on and threw it in the pool and waited.  And waited.  I went in to make a coffee.  I returned outside and waited.  Screw this, I thought and went inside to watch an episode of True Detective (it’s rather good, isn’t it?)  I returned outside every so often and once again the Other Half’s wise words haunted me.  Only one half was starting to fill.  Darn.  They were my exact words…  Dashing about the house, I found old pillows and cushions that I thought would provide leverage and tried to ram them underneath the pool.  I didn’t realise that a large amount of water all pooled together would be very heavy.  I couldn’t lift the bloody thing and just shoved the pillows around the side the best I could.  I stood back and admired my lopsided handy work just in time for Grandad to return.

I don’t think it’s supposed to look like this.

I have to admit that I was a little excited about getting the boy in the pool.  I may have (once or twice) mentioned that I am a bit rubbish at doing all the new mum and baby things.  When my girl was a baby, I paid for her to go to those baby swimming classes which were, in my opinion, a complete rip off.  I had to drive for the best part of an hour in order to get twenty minutes pool time.  After being kicked out of the pool, I then spent a fraught half an hour drying a cold crying baby surrounded by other mums in a communal changing area.  Not one for loving public nakedness and panic drying, I vowed never again.  Watching American box sets is much more exciting than swimming and bonding…

Armed in his little swimming trunks and cap, I dunked his feet in. He cried. Never one to give in, I dunked him again and for a little longer this time.  He cried. This continued for ten minutes before I gave up and returned inside and watched the end of True Detective. (Did you see that coming at the end of episode two?) 

Loving every second of being in the garden.

Before I could attempt round two of ‘dunk and cry’, a rumbling in the distance could be heard and I saw a few splashes of water on the windows. The poor boy was shoved in his ever faithful Jumparoo (why did I even attempt a new activity with him?) and I made a mad dash outside to collect the cushions, put the hose away and put the garage back in lock down.  The heavens opened on my poor lopsided paddling pool and my dream of being Super Mum was washed away by the torrential rain.

At 3.15pm the other half called me as I was typing this blog.  He was on his way home from work and told me that he would collect the girl.

‘Have you got the paddling pool out?’ He asked.
‘In a sense, yes,’ I answered.
Did you prop it up?
‘Yes…but…’ he didn’t let me finish.
‘Is it full?’
‘Has it been acclimatised?’

‘I might take her to the park,’
‘What!? You will not take her to the park!’ I shouted.  ‘I have spent the best part of the day filling it.’
By the time the girl returned home, the sun was shining again. She came running in and asked for her ladybird costume. The Other Half followed, glanced at the paddling pool and shook his head.
‘What is that?’ he asked.
I explained about the cushions, about boy’s aversion to water, the torrential down pour and that really he should give True Detective a chance.  By this time, he was being dragged upstairs to get changed. Once she was in her swimming gear, the girl launched herself into the pool and started splashing around.  The Other Half soon followed.  Upon observing the sunken walls of the pool and the floating leaves, he glanced at his daughter and smiled.
‘It’s served its purpose, I suppose.’ He said.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as much praise as I am going to get for my attempts at being a Super Mum.
At least someone appreciated my efforts.

And so here we are.  It’s 5.30pm and after continuing to play in the pool whilst I held (but didn’t dunk) a very sweaty little boy, the Other Half suggested a barbeque.  He and the girl are out getting lighter fuel and I have just fed my fussy boy and reached for my first Peroni of the evening.

The abandoned pool and bbq. They’ve gone out to buy some lighter fluid…
I’m sure a day in the garden never used to be this hard work.
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