The Teaching Mum

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


Leave a comment

Jay’s Ghost

I started writing this story two years ago and have just found it on an old laptop.  Should I continue it?

Chapter One

Jay

Jay was ten years old when her mother died.

It was on the eve of her thirteenth birthday when she saw her again.

Miss Rose

Every year it was the same. It was the first day of a new term and Miss Rose and all of the other teachers at Seaworth View Secondary Academy were at school whilst the pupils enjoyed the final days of their long summer holiday. Seated at her empty desk (that would not remain empty for long once the new term began), Miss Rose scanned the names of pupils in her new classes. It was a requirement that all teachers familiarise themselves with the pupils in their classes. A simple, but time consuming task because it meant trawling through individual pupil data to find out their grades from the previous year; it meant opening restricted files in the Special educational Needs folder and looking through private documents that could never ever been seen by pupils or parents alike; it meant reading through individual care plans in order to learn as to whether a pupil in your class would need an extra bit of attention from you their teacher this forthcoming year.

This is what Miss Rose was doing when she saw Jay Sumner’s name for the first time.

Jay Sumner? She pondered upon the name for a few moments. It didn’t start alarm bells ringing in her head alerting her to a bothersome pupil one of her colleagues had taught last year nor did it leave her with nothing. There was something there in the back of her mind waving solemnly like an elderly distant relative saying goodbye for what you knew was going to be the final time. Miss Rose noticed that there was a file attached to Jay’s name and it was her duty to read it. She learnt that Jay was a new transfer to the school having recently moved over the Pennines from Lancashire. School transfers were not uncommon though, so why the note? Miss Rose read on. Soon, she learnt that Jay’s mother had died in a car crash when Jay was only ten years old and that if any teachers needed to contact home, then dad would be the first point of contact followed by an aunt who resided in Oldham. Miss Rose felt a slight pain in her heart for the child – it wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling – she had taught many pupils over the years that had lost parents, siblings and grandparents. She made a mental note to keep an eye on the young girl. Being a teacher of English meant that, more often than not, some of the topics they covered often revolved around the themes of death and tragedy, and sometimes that meant treading carefully with some pupils in her classes. There had been times when she and her classes could put the world to rights over whether or not Lady Macbeth was a tragic character or not; they would debate over whether they felt sympathy for Curley’s Wife in ‘Of Mice and Men’; she had had girls run out in tears over the untimely suicide of Juliet and she had had boys make inappropriate jokes, because some of them just weren’t quite mature enough to talk about death in a serious manner. Yes, she would keep and eye on Jay.

The day pushed on and the light changed in the silent classroom as Miss Rose put the final finishing touches to the seating plans she had meticulously created using the data she had been given, the knowledge she already had of the child and whether the child was a girl or a boy. The late summer sun had lowered in the sky and had started to reflect upon the computer screen. Pushing back a stray blonde stand of hair behind her ears, Miss Rose decided to call it a day. After all, she would be back in her classroom again in the morning and by 9am, the seats would be filled with fervent pupils, who were well rested after a long summer and eager to learn. Well, that’s what she told herself anyway. (In reality, they would be clock watching and counting down to the end of the school day in order to enjoy the early September weather – anything to hang onto the final remnants of the summer months.) She switched off the computer, grabbed her coat and bag and shut her classroom door on the way out. For the last six years, this room had been her second home and often she preferred it to returning to her actual home. Did anyone really relish the thought of returning to an empty house – especially when it was twenty degrees and still light outside? Ten years ago, she would have been arranging to meet a friend in a near by pub beer garden, but a lot can change in ten years.

*****

Her laptop whizzed into life. Despite being planned for the week, Miss Rose logged into her work email and checked for any updates on the new school year. There were none. She checked what day her Year 8 form had assemblies, she double checked her library lessons and she ensured that she had sent all of her resources to print. There was nothing to be done. The evening before a new school year begins is the only time in a teacher’s working year that the ‘To Do’ list is complete. She knew that as soon as she walked through the door tomorrow, her list would begin and it would grow and expand and almost cripple her, but that was her job. Being a teacher was all consuming; it was emotional and it made her dog tired. The job ate its way into Miss Rose’s dreams and night, filling them with anxiety for the day ahead. Sometimes, she thought about pupils long after they left her classroom because she was worried about them, or they had made her particularly proud that lesson or (although not that often in her lessons) she was angry at their behaviour and that anger just wouldn’t simmer down. The classroom never really leaves you as a teacher, you see and the pupils, well, the pupils, they can imprint on you forever. Miss Rose didn’t mind this though. The all consuming part of the job was the bit she relished because it ensured that it kept her demons at bay. If she didn’t have the time to acknowledge them, then they didn’t have the time to torment her.

********

The all too familiar sound of her digital alarm clock sounded loudly in Miss Rose’s ear at 6am. She was already awake. It was the same at the start of every school year. Her mind had not switched off from the previous evening and, like she knew they would, her anxious thoughts ate their way into her dreams and she had found herself standing at the front of an unfamiliar science classroom surrounded by children she didn’t know and she was screaming at one of them to get out of the room. Only there was no voice emitting from her mouth and the more and more she tried to shout, the more frustrated she became. Soon, she had started gesticulating with her arms in a vain attempt to just get the kid out and then she whacked her hand on a protruding gas-tap next her computer. In these dreams, Miss Jones was always in a science classroom with its high tables and tall stools – she never knew why this was the classroom that haunted her dreams, but it did. Snapping her eyes awake, Miss Rose looked at her clock at saw that it was 5.30am. There was no point in trying to sleep for half an hour more not when each time she closed her eyes, sleep tried to pull her back into that daunting classroom that had forcibly pushed her into silently screaming for help. No, she kept her eyes open and thought about the day ahead. She had Year 8 first period. Jay wouldn’t be in that class. Briefly, she thought that it was strange that she had thought of Jay, but the moment passed in an instant and she laid and watched the clock and in doing so, forgot to turn off the irritating alarm that hadn’t rung in just over six weeks.

6am. She would be out of the house by 7am and seated at her desk at 7.30am. Mornings were easy when you only had yourself to worry about. Miss Rose lived in a quaint three bedroom cottage in the village of Castleton, which was about fifteen miles away from the coastal town of Whitby. Despite living on her own, she found that she needed her three bedrooms. One had been turned into a small office; one was the space she slept in and the third she had turned into a dressing room. Fastening her dress-gown tightly around her, Miss Rose left her bathroom – with the pleasant scent of lavender chasing her – and made her way into her dressing-room. She loved this room. It looked out onto the Dales and beyond that she could see a small railway line that carried the daily commuters into town. Sitting down at her dressing table, Miss Rose pulled open a drawer and pulled out a rather expensive looking makeup bag. Inside was a treasure chest that any teenage girl would give their right eyebrow for. Literally spilling over the top of the bag were foundations, eye creams, lip creams, eyeliners, eye shadows and various contouring kits. Even though Miss Rose’s social life was somewhat limited, she took a lot of pride in how she looked and what she wore, choosing to spend her money on what made her feel and look good in the hope that it would cover up the way she felt inside. No amount of makeup would fill that hole though. Sometimes it grew that huge, she thought it would consume her. Not today though. Today she was filled with hope because it was the start of a new school year and with new years brought new hopes for both her and her pupils. She stared deep into the mirror and pressed lightly at the soft bags beneath her soft turquoise eyes. When had she become this woman? Tiny lines had started to trace their way outwards from the corners of her eyes. Laughter lines her mother called them, but Miss Rose didn’t have much to laugh about these days. “Scowl marks then,” her mother had sneered when Rose had tried to tell her that she had been feeling a little down’. “You’ve been scowling at that computer of yours for too long,” her mother suggested. “You need a holiday; you need to relax.” What she needed, however, was someone to listen to her, someone to tell her that what she was feeling was perfectly normal for someone of her age to experience, but her mother had failed to notice this cry for help. Her mother had failed her at a lot of things over the years, but Miss Rose had always been reluctant to cut ties with her completely, despite what others had said, because she was her family and without family, she had nothing. She picked up a small, but expensive, jar of cream, opened it and dabbed the tiniest amount onto her forefinger. Dabbing under her eyes, Miss Rose hoped to see a difference in the puffiness around her face. She didn’t, so she pulled out the ‘big guns’ as it were: the concealer, the primer, the foundation and the blusher.

Ten minutes later and Miss Rose had started to recognise the woman who stared back at her from the mirror. She smiled. However, it was a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Whether is was because she didn’t want to see the wrinkles she had spend ten minutes covering or whether it was because she didn’t want to admit to being able to see the deep sadness that currently resided in her face, she would never know because she would never allow herself the time to really ponder over that question as the answer, quite frankly, scared her. A sombre mood and swirled its way into the dressing room and the dressing room was supposed to be a place of glamour; that’s what they had decided on anyway when they first purchased the house ten years ago. Shaking off dark thoughts, Miss Rose stepped over to her wardrobe and pulled out a red polka-dot three quarter length flared skirt and teamed it up with a crisp white shirt, skin-coloured tights and red ballet pumps. It was a bright morning outside and she felt she had to dress to reflect the weather because before she knew it, October would be upon her and with dark nights come dark thoughts.


2 Comments

The Boy with the Dinosaur Pyjamas

A little poem about being adventurous, beating bullies and achieving your dreams.  If you think it needs a bigger audience (of course you do!!), please share!

The Boy with the Dinosaur Pyjamas

There was a young boy whose name was Jimmy,
Tall and lean and some might say skinny,
The thing with Jimmy was that when it came to bedtime,
He was like: “Erm, yep, sure, okay, that’s fine.”

Children, you see, usually when it comes to going to their beds,
They spout out every excuse floating around in their heads.
But for our Jimmy, bedtime’s not a chore,
Because when Jimmy goes to bed each night he rides on top of a dinosaur.

I can see you now saying: “Woah, they’re like extinct!”
Let me explain, I’ll keep it simple and succinct.
Once upon a time young Jim hated catching those Zzzzs,
He had his mum and dad down and begging on their knees,
“Oh Jimmy,” they pleaded. “Sleep is good; it’s not here to harm us.”
And that was when they handed over a pair of magic dinosaur pyjamas.

A dazzling green, you might say lime,
Whatever the colour, Jimmy began to love bedtime,
The magic, you see, shush, come here and gather in,
The magic could only be seen by him.

As night would fall, the pyjamas would shake and wriggle,
As they did this, Jimmy would giggle and jiggle.
Now, come on kids, don’t lose focus,
Because on that first night, out jumped a Diplodocus.

Its neck was long and a tail did sprout,
It had a nose with a super smelling snout,
But don’t fret my dears, this beast is not a scary ‘un,
Didn’t you know the Diplodocus is a vegetarian?

Accepting the magic, Jimmy took it all in his stride,
As he struggled to board his new dinosaur ride,
The dinosaur (lets name it Big Dippy D)
Leant a hand by bending a knee

Dippy D was strong, tall and green,
Jimmy wondered how they were going to slip out of the house unseen,
There was a huge window that led out onto the roof,
Nobody had thought to make the house dinosaur proof,

Out they stepped on into the night,
Guiding their way was the moon shining bright,
Onwards they stepped; they moved on in silence,
The dinosaur’s thoughts were not filled with violence.

Seeing a sauropod up close, the chance is quite slim,
Imagine the excitement bubbling up in our young Jim.
Their adventure however, was almost cut short,
They were almost seen and almost caught

By a passing milk van driving slowly through the dawn,
“Was that a dinosaur, I saw?” said the milkman pressing his horn.
“There’s its long neck, its thick curvy tail,
Four sturdy legs, it’s huge, it’s to scale.”

Big Dippy D stopped dead in its tracks,
It whispered to Jimmy “It’s time to turn back.”
Grabbing hold of his neck, Jimmy gripped on tight,
They had to go home before day consumed night,

Huge strides were made to make it home safe and sound,
“Quick! Slide on down my neck and get onto the ground”
Jimmy let go and he flew down in a whizz,
As the milkman pulled up waving his arms in a tizz,

“What was that I saw? Now, don’t you dare call me ridiculous
But did I just see you sliding down the neck of a diplodocus?”
But it was just little Jimmy standing by his front door,
Wearing his green dinosaur pyjamas, that’s it and nothing more.

The milkman no longer believed what he did see,
Because the magic worked just for Jim, you and me
Off came the PJs, a new day had dawned,
Folded neatly on Jimmy’s bed, a tired dinosaur yawned.

A new adventure awaited but for now it would rest,
But stirring quietly on the left leg was the huge, mean T-Rex.
Jimmy, now at school, was with his friends and having fun,
The T-Rex smiled and patiently waited for night time to come.

————————————————————————–

Come on now kids, I know you want more,
You want a visit from an exciting dinosaur,
Well here it comes; it’s time for a bad ‘un
It grew from Jimmy’s fears though, which makes it a sad ‘un.

Now Jimmy had friends but a few days back,
He found himself coming under attack
From some older boys who didn’t like his hair,
They stood over him, belittled him and made others stare,

Their words, they stuck and the insults did sting,
But Jimmy didn’t want to make it a thing,
His anger he breathed in and out through his nose,
His emotions were passed on through his night clothes,

So dusk did fall and Jimmy undressed,
He climbed into the PJs he loved the best,
Stitched onto his left leg, patiently waiting, was the theropod,
Waiting for the household to visit the Land of Nod.

When you’re a T-rex, it’s hard to stay quiet,
Especially when you’re following a meat only diet.
With its tummy grumbling it grew and awoke,
And to Jimmy’s surprise it had a lisp when it spoke.

“Now listen to me, Jimmy, yes siree,
We’re paying a visit to those boys from Class three.”
“I’m not quite sure Mr T-Rex, if you please,
Getting them to apologise, well, it won’t be a breeze.”

“We’ll see about that, I have my own ways and means
Of getting an apology from snotty nosed tweens.”
They sneaked out of the house without waking a soul,
42 Wood Street was their destination and goal.

A dinosaur with short arms can’t knock on doors,
But it makes up for what it lacks with its menacing roar,
Snoozing in bed is a boy we won’t name,
Because rising above them makes them all the more lame.

A sharp tap on the window was all it took,
For the house to shudder, shake and shook,
Opening a window with force and a clatter,
An angry young boy screamed: “My Gosh! What’s the matter?”

He stopped in his tracks and he could scream no more,
When he was face to face with a huge dinosaur,
Standing on his porch and looking right in,
The young boy could see jagged teeth in its grin.

“Now listen here and listen close,
Making people feel sad makes you ugly and gross.
Don’t be the bad guy. Do you understand fully?
Because no one wants to be friends with the school’s only bully.”

“Yes, Mr Rex oh, don’t eat me please,
Or are you just a slice of undigested cheese?”
“I assure you I’m real just look at my teeth,
I’ve been told that young boys taste like a fine cut of beef,

Have you learnt your lesson? Don’t use words that sting,
Your voice should be used to make the hearts of others sing.”
The dinosaur looked at the bully and winked,
“Take my advice or soon you too will be extinct.

The world won’t suffer those who act like you,
Make a change for the better ensure that you do.”
The boy looked to Jimmy perched way up high,
A coy smile he offered, they shook hands and said bye.

The T-Rex and his master headed back to the house,
Where the dinosaur entered as quiet as a mouse,
Jimmy returned to his bed and laid down to rest,
The T-Rex, satisfied, had completed his test.

Sunlight glared through his window so bright,
A new day was here and gone was the night,
His PJs were thrown into the wash,
His fear of school he was ready to squash.

When Jimmy arrived he was utterly spellbound,
Because his bully waved at him as he entered the playground,
“I’m sorry,” he said “I won’t do it again,
It took a dinosaur with short arms to reach into my brain.”

The two eventually became quite good friends,
But this isn’t where Jimmy’s story quite ends,
Magic, you know, is never as it seems,
Next we need to discuss Young Jim’s hopes, wishes and dreams.

—————————————————————————-

Magic exists you just need to know where to look,
Whether it be on pyjamas or in the pages of this book,
Our next dinosaur has wings and can fly,
It will teach you that there ain’t nothing you can’t defy.

The pyjamas were washed, dried and clean,
Airing on the radiator, this pterodactyl sneaked out unseen,
“Hey Jimmy!” it squeaked through a long pointed beak,
“Ever wanted to see Mount Everest’s highest peak?”

“I’ll never reach something so magnificent and high,”
“How do you know,” the reptile asked, “if you don’t even try?
Failure can offer new thoughts or a solution,
Look at us, we were wiped out but then there’s this thing called evolution.”

Our hero, our boy, our adventurer, Jim,
Opened his mind and began listening
To the stories told by the friendly carnivore,
He learnt of places, dates, history and a whole lot more.

“You’re telling me I could be an astronaut and fly to the moon,
Or I could teach young children about a song with a dish and a spoon?”
“Success isn’t money or searching for a big win,
Success is counted by the size of your grin.”

Do what makes you happy and you’ll find that you’ll soar,
You won’t need to fly on the back of a winged dinosaur.”
“I understand, but I admit flying looks pretty fun,
How about just once round the block before up comes the sun?”

Unable to avoid Jim’s irresistible charm,
The pterodactyl offered him a long scaly arm.
So children, look up, look for the magic in the skies,
You might just be in for a pleasant surprise,

There amongst the stars may be a boy in his pyjamas,
With his dinosaur on his way back from the Bahamas,
He chose to believe that nothing is impossible,
And if we all live this way, that makes us unstoppable.

The end.

Dedicated to this guy and his own magic pyjamas.

Illustrations courtesy of Charlotte Gibbens.


Leave a comment

Silent Screaming

Invisible behind the clear glass windscreen she screams and it’s guttural, it’s visceral but totally relatable,

Unseen perhaps because the sunlight hits the screen at just the right angle;

Unseen maybe because she’s over 30 and no one truly sees her anymore;

Unseen probably because she’s not the only one screaming. She’s not the only one alone screaming in her car,

She just feels like she is.

Now before you ask, she is fine,

is of sound thought and the owner of a rational mind,

She beared the brunt of just your bog standard tantrum this morning;

she wasn’t yet dressed,

She unloaded and loaded the washing machine, hung herself out to dry as admittedly she’s long past her best,

She’s your port of call in a storm, a bright beacon when you’re lost in the dark,

When needed, she’s your number one,

But. She lost a little chunk of herself when she became a Mum.

A choice was made and the path laid clear,

She went into this decision with wide open eyes,

Imagine her shock and imagine her surprise that when asked if she’s okay, she pours out lies,

Who set the bar so high? I always thought I was quite tall,

Glossy magazines, painted fake smiles? Yeah, actually, I’m really rather small.

Diminished, dishevelled and disappearing into herself,

No longer desirable; too young to gather dust upon that high shelf.

And seated in her car her thoughts close in and whisper…

When suddenly it hits her…

She’s alone. Alone! Finally alone.

Her thoughts are not of school runs, panicked emails, best laid plans but they’re her own,

What to do? What to do? It’s every mum’s dream when wide eyed and staring out comes that scream,

‘I wasn’t my best today; I should have tried harder, I allowed it to get to me – another chink in my armour,

A martyr to motherhood? I’ve let down my team,

Lost patience and a PE kit – I’m every mediocre parent’s dream’,

Left alone too long and your thoughts can turn sour;

guilt hits harder if your ‘me time’ runs over an hour.

Admit it now, it’s called defeat.

It’s okay to throw in the towel as

there’s always your car. It will sit and hum gently while you scream and howl because it understands that sometimes you don’t always want to ‘talk’;

sometimes you don’t need a shoulder to cry on;

sometimes you don’t want your problems shared or halved

or even solved.

Sometimes you just want to scream.

Like a car, we just want to get from A to B and perhaps it takes a scream to allow us to see

that today we couldn’t please everybody; today we let ourselves down; today perfection was far from our grasp,

Like it always is.

But at least we tried.


5 Comments

It’s Snow Joke

Ah, the elusive ‘Snow Day’…

Legends have foretold that once in a generation soft, crisp and gloriously white snow may fall so heavily on our beloved little island that life as we know it will come to a halt.  Snow so heavy, so cold, so icy that maybe, just maybe the school you work in may have to…pause for effect…CLOSE due to adverse weather conditions.

I know right.  Bloody teachers getting ANOTHER day off school.  The nation rolls its eyes.

But, you know – I paid over £3000 for a week’s holiday to Spain last year because I had to go during the school holidays.  So roll away non-teaching buddies, roll away.

October 2010 was the last time I was off work due to snow.  I remember the day well.  Teaching Dad and I were driving (in separate cars) to the same school and despite a small coating of the white stuff, the roads were pretty clear when we hop, skipped and danced our way to school.  Suddenly, in a heartbeat, the apocalypse descended upon us. The skies above us darkened and within minutes, the roads and our cars were under a blanket of snow.  It was a beautiful moment until my car got stuck on a hill on our way home and my knight in his shining PE Teacher kit has to get out of his car, walk down to mine and drive it up the hill for me.

The day that followed was filled with carelessly watching mid-morning television, eating and going for a really long, picturesque walk through all the fields, woods and hills that surround our tranquil, little village. We returned snow drunk and cold but hot drinks and love soon warmed us up as we laid beneath a sheepskin blanket next to a roaring fire… (Ah, nostalgia and rose tinted spectacles paint a much prettier picture than the reality that was me falling in the snow, crying and squishing my Ganglion Cyst back into my wrist and thus curing it) and so the perfect snow day drew to a close.

Snow days are the perfect little surprise…

Until you have kids…

Snow Day One – The One with the Snowman

It’s 6.53am and you’re staring out of your window frightened of what may lay ahead.  The journey will be perilous and slow and it is one you must face alone because the last time you asked your husband to do one of the kids’ drop offs he looked at you as one might look at a small child who put his shoes on himself without being asked – in disbelief. The school and the nursery are at the two polar ends of the village and as you well know, the school and nursery drop off are difficult enough under normal circumstances especially when your children have become deaf to the hoots of you calling again and again and again for them to put their bloody shoes on.

However, on this day, there is something else to add to your already stressful morning and it’s snow.  A whole wad of it has been dumped unceremoniously on your untreated drive way and road.  The thought of leaving the house with the children makes you retreat back into the foetal position and sit rocking back and forth in your dressing gown repeatedly contouring your nose and not knowing what to do for the best.

Your usual unresponsive husband has gone all tribal and is dancing to the beat of his own drum, with a blue football sock tied around his head, chanting “snow, snow, snow, snow!”

“Have you received the text?” I ask daring to look away from the window in case the snow stops.

“No, have you?” he questions.

“No.  I don’t know what to do.” I say in a panic.

“You need to stop contouring your nose. Is her school closed?”

“You never notice my appearance anymore and you notice now!”

“Teaching Mum! (because that’s my name) Task at hand.”

“Um, no, I don’t know.”

“Have you received a text?” he asks.

“No,”

And so this conversation continues for another half an hour and if you feel like you’re getting no where with this blog post, it’s because you’re not.  Much like us on that first morning.  Between looking on social media and slagging off every other teacher we know on Facebook who got the ‘call’ before us, we found ourselves still undressed at 7.23am.

Breakfast club opens in six minutes and your eldest is seated upon the toilet watching You Tube.

Then. The. Text. Arrives.

School is closed.

Like a pool of melted snow, the stress begins to leave your body.  You won’t have to drive amongst the carnage, you won’t have to skid across an icy-playground, you won’t be risking your precious ones’ lives and, more importantly, you won’t have to get dressed.

The joy of a snow day with your family lasts approximately three and a half minutes.

8am

“Mum, can I have sweets?”

“No,”

“Why?”

“It’s 8am.”

My three year old has no concept of time but he knows his snacks.

“Mum, can I have crisps?”

“No,”

“Why?”

“It’s 8.01am”

“Can I have one of your biscuits?”

“No,”

“Why?”

“Because I said so,”

“Can I have a Fruit Shoot?” (You’ve got to give this kid credit for his relentlessness as much as I am giving you credit for continuing to read this conversation.)

“No,”

“Why?”

“You’ve already had three this morning.”

Before you know it, it is 8.17am and your son is off his t*ts on Haribos and you’re eyeing up the McGuigans your Mum gave you last week for surviving half term alone whilst husband dearest went bloody skiing…again.

10am

Snow man

“I’ve just seen the four house men of the apocalypse ride by, so I am going to take a pass, but thanks, sweetheart.”

“I don’t understand the concept of sarcasm, Mum so I will ask again more loudly this time. DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN…(cue cute voice…) with us?”

puss in boots

Ah, hello, Mum guilt.  I wondered how long it would be before you reared your ugly head.

“Get your shoes on then.”

Now, I don’t need to tell you this, but the phrase ‘get your shoes on then’ was said, muttered, screamed and yelled a further 4563 times before the children were layered up, in their hats, coats, shoes and gloves (putting gloves on a three year old is the equivalent of being asked to solve a maths equation mentally in front of your class, standing on your head, naked and on fire – it’s torture).

Eventually, your children are snug and warm and ready to brave the snow.

Joey Lunge

That is, until…

Boo needs a wee

“Mum! I need a wee!”

Lo and behold, my saviour (once again in his PE kit) walks into the hallway and takes his children out to build a snowman.

The kettle is put boiling, the biscuits chosen and Netflix is on.

Until…

“Muuuuum!!” They’re cold, wet and both of them are crying because apparently they both have frost bite.

Netflix and chill(ed to the bone.)

The rest of the day is spent eating, clinging to radiators and complaining about the cold.

Snow Day Two – The One with the Early Text

6.10am and through blurry eyes you see messages from colleagues wondering whether a second Snow Day will be called. The garden and street have an eerie silence to it and you’ve just seen this guy:

snowman

6.15am and the text arrives.

School is closed.

It’s 6.15am, it’s still dark, it’s cold and it can mean only one thing…

Sleep.

Yes! I’m going to go back to sleep.

It’s going to be amazing!

But, in the night the Sleep Stealers sneaked in and climbed between the sheets and are now snoring and breaking wind simultaneously and I am sandwiched in between them both. Afraid to breathe and afraid to move, sleep slowly begins to pull me back under and lull me into believing that this day will be better than yesterday.

Today is a blank canvas.

“Mum! It’s snowed again!”

Literally a blank canvas.

“Mum! Can we go outside?”

“Not at 7.08 in the morning, dear. Ask your Dad.”

Dad can be found rocking gently on the toilet with his phone in his hand.

“They’ve not called it yet. They’ve not called it and I don’t know what to do!”

Eventually, they call it and by 10am we are all layered up and outside armed with a sledge and money. We’ve heard rumours of Tesco running out of Toastie bread and milk so we decide to walk to our local convenience store. In our estate the snow is fluffy and white and the wind simply nibbles at our ears. However, as soon as we turn the corner into the main road our ears have been ripped off by the savage dog that is the gale force wind.  Our eyes stream at force of the wind and the tears sit frozen above our top lips.  We no longer have children; they have been replaced by two miniature snowmen both of whom are repeatedly telling us that they hate the snow.

Defeated, we return home and the husband grabs the car keys despite being warned by the BBC that driving is the one thing you should not do and announces that he’s going to Tesco.

“There are snow drifts on the way up to Tesco. I’ve seen it on Facebook so it must be true. There’s no milk left anywhere. The shelves are empty; people are clambering over each other to buy the last packet of Kit Kats.  Don’t go.  Please, don’t leave us here.”

“Do you want anything?”

“Yeah, sushi.”

img_3832

Snow Day Three – The One Where We Kind of Wished We Were Working but Would Never Admit That to Anyone…Ever.

You’ve got to get out of the house.

Even the snowman has lost the will to live.

You ring your Mum.

“Mum, we’re coming over,”

“Don’t risk bringing the kids over when the roads are like this.  It’s perilous.  It’s not worth putting them in danger.  Come see me another day. I’m just about to watch yesterday’s Corra.”

“Too late, we’re already on your door step.”

When your Mum is in the kitchen, you see the events that are about to unfold due to the fact that they have been like caged animals for the last three days…

“Bye, Mum!”

And you run.

Just watch out for the black ice. It’s fraught with danger – much like three back to back Snow Days with your children.


1 Comment

Guns Don’t Kill People, Teachers Do.

To be rapped to Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s ‘Guns Don’t Kill People’.

Guns don’t kill people, teachers do,

Ask any right-wing politician and they’ll tell you it’s true,

It’s a fact, Shakespeare makes you violent,

Imagine if Harper Lee had created Atticus to be silent,

You don’t believe me? Read this hype about teachers shooting guns as they teach sentence types,

There you sit defiant and unheedin’,

While children lay at your feet dying and bleeding’,

You’re the killer, right? Because you don’t give a f***,

The only weapon a teacher needs is a damn fine book,

But no, we’re doing this all wrong,

I should be shooting guns not singing the phonics song,

So I started, I bought some adhesive tape,

But a gun won’t stick to my super hero cape,

So remember kids, if your lesson feels flat,

Your teacher might be concealing a weapon in her fish-tale plait.

Guns don’t kill people, teachers do,

We should be teaching peace,

Woo, woo, woo.

Guns don’t kill people, teachers do,

I learnt how by watching on a documentary on BBC2,

Hands shaking outside her locked classroom door,

She’s ready and poised and in her hands she takes the law,

Statistics and Fake News are sometimes misleadin’

By allowing more guns, it’s killers you’re breedin’

It’s hidden under your left breast? No wonder you’re scared of breathin’,

It’s okay though – more CPD we’ll be receivin’,

No guns in the UK by ‘97,

A safer place, less violence – it’s almost heaven,

Too many lives lost. R.I.P,

Guns, not kids, should be in the cemetery,

Guns don’t kill people, teachers do,

I’m all about the peace,

Woo, woo, woo.

Guns don’t kill people, teachers do,

I’m an English Teacher but I won’t kill you,

As a teacher, I’m teaching you a lesson,

About empathy, love and freedom of expression,

Keep making a stand; keep saying no,

I need my money for green pens, not bullet vests and ammo,

Let’s pray you don’t have a teacher who often flippin’,

I like teaching poetry and not pistol whippin’,

But if you’re a teen filled with attitude and a whole lot of sass,

You’d better hope your teacher doesn’t pop a cap in your ass,

Playing with lives isn’t a game, it’s murder one,

Teachers in a classroom with a concealed gun?

This teacher can’t shoot but she can bust out a rap,

Guns don’t kill people? What a load of crap.


Leave a comment

The Trials and Tribulations of Modern Day Motherhood: #2 The Relaxing Bath

It had been five days since she had washed her hair and in that time she had been out running; been caught in the rain and been in the line of fire when her two year old decided that on Wednesdays he hated scrambled eggs.

Once upon a time in a land far away and in a world without her children, Carrie used to wash her hair every other day. Her long, luxurious, golden locks would be emerged wholly into the bath where she would lay and contemplate the true meaning of life while bubbles crackled around her head. When she was ready, she would reach for her shampoo – an exclusive purchase from her hairdressers – and soap up her hair. Once the shampoo was rinced out and the £5 a bottle of conditioner was evenly distributed, she would reach for the hot tap for a top up of warmth and then grab the Kindle that was waiting patiently on the side and she would read and read and read. Bath time, once upon a time, was heaven.

The last straw came on Friday night when her six year old used her hair as a tissue. That’s right, Carrie’s six year old daughter – who was able bodied and two metres away from the box of tissues – sneezed and then rubbed her nose in her Mum’s hair in a pathetic attempt to ‘snuggle’ her. The sight of the sickly green slime that coated her hair made her gag.

“Get off me!” Carrie yelled, knowing full well that a six year old girl’s cuddles only came at a price, usually when she wanted something or needed something.

“I just want a cuddle,” came the muffled voice buried deep within Carrie’s hair.

“What’s that on my ear? Ewww, why is my ear wet. Get. Off. Me!”

Yanking her daughter off her and placing her unceremoniously on the carpet, Carrie glanced at her eldest child and saw tears of hurt glisten in her eyes. Soon, however, Carrie realised that the thin sheen glazing over her daughter’s left eye was not tears at all.  Nope, it was snot.  It seemed that while she was being pulled from the inner depths of Carrie’s hair, she had retraced her slime spreading steps and retrieved some of the goo that had been moisturising Carrie’s split ends. For the briefest of seconds, Carrie considered leaving her hair another day – after all, most of it was out now and it did have a shimmer to it – but the sheer disgust she felt in both herself and her daughter made her change her mind.

When did this become her life?

“Out! Out, all of you,” Carrie shouted as she gathered up discarded shoes and coats in the hallway.

Moments after ‘Snot Gate’, Carrie had persuaded her husband, Chris, to take the children out to tea and within ten minutes the three of them were packed up in the car.  Silence engulfed Carrie; it wrapped its arms around her like an old friend.

The hot tap coughed and spluttered into life as she looked for some bubble bath she may have received as a Christmas present five months ago. Alas, adult bubble bath was not to be found so Carrie had to make do with a bottle of Mr Matey.  Davey the Seaman – ‘a pirate with heart but with an aim like a dart’ – glooped out into the running water. How had she not noticed the inappropriateness of this bottle before?  Ah, yes children – they had turned her brain to mush.  The hot tap continued to fill the tub and as it was doing so, Carrie started to empty out the toys currently residing in the tub. Out came Batman, two dinosaurs, three cars, Woody (who was missing his hat), four Kinder Surprise Egg toys and Barbie.  Barbie was looking somewhat dishevelled and was wearing a ring of dried white suds around her midriff. Clearly, Davey the Seaman had squirted on her during the previous night’s bath… The kids were always bloody squeezing excess soap suds everywhere.

Steam started to circle the air so on went the cold tap.  In that moment, Carrie disappeared to grab her Kindle, undress and grab her robe.  Eventually, the bath was ready; Carrie lowered herself into it slowly and watched as her skin turned pink in the heat.  Slowly laying back, she allowed the water to climb up her spine as she accustomed herself to the hot water . Her Kindle, balancing precariously on the sink, waited for her. Inside the cover it contained worlds she had not ventured into for such a long time and characters, whom she would once refer to as friends, were now merely strangers on a page waiting to be acknowledged.

Once she was fully emerged, Carrie reached for her Kindle and opened it.  Its glowing light entranced her and immediately she was hooked. The opening chapter set the scene wonderfully and as colourful metaphors began to formulate images in Carrie’s head, she heard the front door open and bang shut.

She didn’t move.

Didn’t breathe.

Perhaps if she stayed quiet they wouldn’t know she was there.

Naked.

Vulnerable.

Alone.

A thunderous noise hit the staircase and began its ascent to the top. There was the briefest of pauses before the bathroom door was slammed inwards and her children entered with a barrage of questions.

“Mum! What are you doing?”

“Having a bath,”

“Mum! Where is my tablet?”

“Downstairs where you left it.”

“Mum! Where’s Woody?”

“Down there.”

“Where’s his hat?”

“Ask Batman,”

“Mum! Shall I wash your hair?”

“No!”

It was too late. The six year old had already lathered up and her hands were already massaging her scalp.

It was only then that she realised her two year old had been uncharacteristically quiet and that she could feel something attached to her big toe. Recoiling in horror, she realised it was only Batman and he was wearing Woody’s hat.  She made a mental note of that when so a future meltdown could be averted.  Floating around her now she could see three out of four of the original cast of Ghostbusters moving their way slowly past her stomach. She wondered where Dr Venkman was and thought she saw him pop up between her legs before realising that it was the tail of the plastic T-Rex that had been lying on the bath rug a few moments earlier.  She had purposely placed it on its side as its arms were rendered useless when lying down so clearly this T-Rex had received a helping hand back into the bath.

“Okay, okay, this has to stop now!” Carrie screamed as the T-Rex was flung across the room.

Strategically placing bubbles around all the areas a woman needs bubbles, Carrie kindly asked her children to back away for one God damn minute so she could rinse her hair. Emerging once again into the now cooling water, silence filled her ears as the water rushed in.

“Mum!!! I need a poo!” came the unmistakable desperate tones of a two year old in need of a dump.

Carrie immediately sat up straight in the bath, displacing all bubbles and discarding all that was left of her modesty and barked instructions to her daughter to get her brother’s pants down and get him on the potty.  Once this was done, both children – one on the floor and one red-faced and straining on the potty – sat silently facing Carrie just watching.  Goosebumps began to slowly climb her arms and Carrie couldn’t tell whether this was due to the bath now being lukewarm or whether it was due to the unsettling way her children were just staring at her in a way that reminded her of the spooky twins in ‘The Shining’.

The silence was broken with an almighty crash.

In stormed Carrie’s husband looking red faced and desperate.  He walked briskly towards the toilet, lifted the lid, unfastened his jeans and sat down and a look of relief washed over his face.

“You’ve been in here for ages!  Sorry, I couldn’t wait any longer.  Look at you laying there like Lady Muck enjoying her hot bath.  Enjoying that are you?”

Carrie’s stern eyes spoke a thousand words and Chris immediately shut up.  As husband and wife stared at each other – one on the bog and one in the bath – naked, vulnerable but no longer alone, her son stood up from his potty, bent over and shouted.

“Mum! Wipe my bum!”

Lady Muck indeed.

 


Leave a comment

A Little Plea to RSVP

Mummy was starting to feel stressed about her daughter’s party so she penned a poem about the importance of the RSVP.

A little plea to parents everywhere,

Please help me out before I despair.

Standing before you is just another mum,

Persuaded by her kid to do something dumb,

My daughter she begged for a party at soft play,

Invites were sent – well over twenty I’d say.

Weeks are passing and it’s nearly time,

But my RSVP list shows only nine.

“How many days now?” she asks me daily,

“Have you heard from Luke’s mum and what about Kayleigh?”

I nod and smile and say “it’s just a few weeks,”

As I glance at my phone and pray that it beeps.

I know that you’re busy, hun. Us parents always are,

But RSVP and I promise you a pint because there’s a bar.

Please let me know if little Alfie can make it,

So I can buy a Colin Caterpillar cake – hell, I might even bake it.

Modern life is manic so I will cut you some slack,

But what do I have to do to get you to text a mother back?

I can offer you sausage rolls, sandwiches and of course, Haribo,

Please just tell me if I should expect young Jo,

I’ve got to make the party bags and plan a game or two,

All I need is a simple yes or no from you.

I’ve given you my number and I have told you the date,

If your child loves Wotsits, I’ll provide a whole plate,

I’m writing this in the hope you’ll find it funny,

But seriously, I’ve parted with quite a lot of money.

That’s it, it’s the end of my little plea,

I look forward to receiving your RSVP…😬😊😉👍