The Teaching Mum

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


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Two Orbits of My Son

When your sister turned two, I was warned to watch out for the ‘Terrible Twos’.  I was told to expect endless tantrums, arguments and swift right hooks from a small child who was now big enough to land a powerful punch if she picked her body part wisely.  For example, a punch to my bum could go unnoticed as there’s padding a plenty; a headbutt to the cheekbone (an injury often sustained whilst trying to wrestle her into a pair of tights), however, was agony.

But, however ‘terrible’ two was with your sister, it was also wonderful and amazing and beautiful because her individuality started to shine through; her personality blossomed; her hair was finally growing down past her ears and she became the greatest cuddler in the world.

I mourn the fact that she is no longer two.  Just like I mourn the fact that you are no longer a baby.  You are a walking, talking, Fruit Shoot guzzling little boy and my brief foray into the magical, unpredictable and chaotic world of ‘Babydom’ is over as there is no plan for a third visit from the stork – let’s just say we have moved on from that part of our lives and left no forwarding address.

Despite our mutual decision of stopping at two, this hasn’t stopped me crying into a discarded muslin that, if sniffed at the right angle, still smells like your divine new born head.  I can still be seen giving lingering looks at the baby bath that has sat unused in your room now for well over a year.  I have even wondered that if I stare at my my boobs for long enough (in a Carrie at senior prom like way) will they magically lactate again? Therefore meaning that you are still my baby boy and we haven’t quite yet left the baby years behind us? But, the fact is: the muslins are old and worn out; the bath has (only just) been given away to someone who is about to embark on their own baby adventure and my boobs have shrunk so much that the mere thought of them having to produce another drop of milk might just have them retreating even further into my chest.  No, we must never look back.  After all, you’re about to enter the ‘terrible twos’ and if you’re half as good as your sister was at being two, then you’re going to be awesome.

You are hands down the greatest cuddler in the world.  If there was a competition for cuddling, you would nail it.  At cuddling, you kick your sister’s butt. While she likes to lure me in with fake high fives (“High five, Mummy!” *goes in for the high five only to be denied* “Ha loser.  You’re a loser!”), you grab me and pull us together cheek to cheek and while your sister refuses to pucker up her lips when I ask for a kiss (she unwillingly presents me with flat lips), you, at random points, just come and plant a firm kiss on my lips, my hair or my phone. Yes, you once kissed my phone, which I think says more about me than you.

Pucker up!

We don’t talk about this openly you and I (mostly because you can only really speak coherently about Fruit Shoots, Peppa Pig and dinosaurs), but we are co-sleepers. It wasn’t in the plan. Although, when mummy returned to work and was getting only a few hours sleep at night, it became the plan. It’s not an ideal situation, but secretly I love it and I will explain why.  Once you’re asleep, I will creep downstairs and begin my nightly ritual of having a cup of tea, eating some chocolate and watching something American on Sky Atlantic. After an hour or so, your Daddy will tell me that I look tired and that I should go to bed so he can watch ‘Alaska: The Last Frontier’.  So off I go to bed where I find you snoozing under a cover that still makes you look tiny and laying on a pillow that’s way too large for your head.  Cautious not to disturb you, I sneak in next to you, but no matter the space between us, you, still snoozing, move yourself and snuggle into me. Last night I was even treated to a sleep talking “twit twoo” as you slotted yourself into my arms squishing one of them underneath you. Perhaps you do it for comfort, perhaps it’s love, but most of all it’s because you have never known anything else and that’s no one’s fault but mine. At sleep training both you and your sister we failed completely, but when you’re cuddled next to me and all I can smell is your freshly washed hair, I really don’t care.

You at two, your favourite sleeping position, you and your big sis and those dimples!

Despite Mummy and Daddy literally purchasing and owning the television in our house, the television in our house does not belong to us. It belongs to your sister. As your sister owns the television, it means that some fundamental children’s programmes almost passed you by. Almost. You were, up until only a few months ago, blissfully unaware of the imperious pig we all know and love by the name of Peppa.  You actually literally stumbled upon a 2016 Peppa Pig annual and asked your Dad what it was by jamming it into his face. Fast forward four months and channel 615 is now a permanent fixture on your sister’s television again and I have lost count of how many times I have shouted “It’s not a toy train, it’s a miniature locomotive!” at Miss Rabbit as she happily, but very slowly, drives a bunch of talking animals to work. You also love ‘Ben and Holly’ and can be heard shouting “Elf Rescue!” and together we have an affinity for ‘Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures’ although I don’t think we watch it for the same reasons…(Andy – call me…!)

You are a really happy young man and your sheer delight for most things is infectious. You have two little dimples high up in your cheeks and seeing them appear everyday when I pick you up after I have finished work absolutely makes my day. No matter the type of day I have had, your smile is a shining beacon that lights up; it signals the fact that the working day has ended and family time, if only for a few hours, has started and nothing can beat that feeling. However, it can’t be all unicorns and rainbows can it? Tantrums have begun to sneak in.  Mostly they are about Fruit Shoots. After nursery, you will bound into the kitchen shouting “Frooot Sooot! Frooot Sooot, Mummy!” and when I say no, you plonk your little bum on the floor and begin to scream. Obviously after teaching a few raucous teenagers, there’s only so much more screaming I can take and within minutes seconds you are running around happily with a Fruit Shoot in your hand. You also cleverly use Fruit Shoots as a form of torture. This torture often occurs at 3am when you wake me up with a yank to my fringe quietly saying “Fooot Shooot”.  In my dishevelled state, I’ll search the bedroom floor blindly in the darkness before grasping the familiar feel of the bottle that has been left there by your Daddy who sneaked in the room quietly at midnight after having watched ‘Goldrush’. We only get to watch our programmes late at night because, you know, your sister owns the TV…

When compared to your sister at two, you are incredibly brave or should that say stupid? No, not stupid. A daredevil perhaps. You will climb and climb and climb – I am hoping that the eyes in the back of my head are going to grow in soon because, heaven knows, I am going to need them.

You weren’t smiling when it got stuck on your head moments later!


Today you are two years old. I can’t believe it. To me, you are still all shiny and new and I can remember every second of the day you were born – mostly because my waters broke in NatWest Bank and after driving home and wetting the car seat, I refused to leave the house to go to the mid-wife led unit until I had finished watching the penultimate episode of ‘Breaking Bad’. But, also the day was so memorable because that was the day our family was complete. You completed us. We are now a unit. Two females and two males – in my opinion – perfect and I will never take what we have for granted. Thank you for choosing us; I hope we are doing you proud because we could not be prouder of you.

Dude.

Daredevil.

Fruit shoot addict.

Brother.

Son.

Me and my boy. (He is staring at a Fruit Shoot that’s out of his reach.)

This post was in no way sponsored by Fruit Shoot…seriously.


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Five Lessons for my Five Year Old

I have thought long and hard about this post.  I have written parts, deleted them and rewritten time and time again.  Why? Because this blog, ultimately, is for you and your brother to look back on and read about what you were like growing up – if you want to that is!

Therefore, this post is going to be an honest account of how you are now.

Last year, I wrote about you turning four and I gushed over you and spoke of how you fixed my broken little family and brought and end to the heartache that lingered from losing Dad and Grandma.  That, my dear, remains true.  You are all we have ever wanted and in the moments that your possessive yells filled the birthing room on the 29th October 2011, I knew that I would lay down my life for you in a heartbeat.  I was now a Mum and that was irrevocable – I would always be your Mum and there was no going back.  My life was no longer about me anymore and despite declaring before your birth that being a parent would not define me, I am proud to say it does and it always will.  I am yours until the day I take my final breath.

175

Were you ever really this small?

You’re five.  I must have blinked.  I can see the young lady that you are becoming and if I am being honest, sometimes I worry.  The little girl who runs into my bedroom each morning still half asleep needs a little direction and, perhaps, a sterner hand.  Every morning I ask for a cuddle and most mornings I am denied. Perhaps it’s because you’re still in the clutches of sleep, perhaps it’s because you can see the iPad on the bedside table over my left shoulder or perhaps hugging is not the done thing for a five year old.  And it is this awareness that I am a little afraid of because there is no doubt in my mind that you are fully aware of when you are being naughty, unkind or disrespectful and it is these qualities that I must change in you.

Now, I fully understand that with every child there will be some mischief – it is what makes life fun sometimes and it can liven up our personality, but being unkind is a quality I will not allow.

“Daddy, kick Mummy,” you say.  Or, “Zachy, climb on the table,” or “jump from that chair.”  You know that this is wrong, so why do it? Do you really want to see your brother jump and hurt himself?  No, don’t answer that question because I fear the answer.  I reprimand you of course, and so does your Dad. Only a few weeks ago, I returned home from work to see you in floods of tears on the bottom of the stairs.

“I’m on the thinking step!” you yelled as I walked in and without thinking, I scooped you up and wiped away your tears.

An act of defiance.


The sky falls when you cry and my instincts kick in and I strain to hold it up for you.  If I were being a good parent or a strong parent, I would have left you there to think about what you had done, which as it turned out, was to tell Grandma to leave as soon as your Dad arrived home.  What you did was rude.  Grandma had picked you up from school, brought you home and taken care of you whilst we worked and you told her to leave.  I too have been on the receiving end of this when, last week, you told me to leave and physically tried to push me out of the door when you were staying at Grandma’s.  In this life, you must always be considerate of other people’s feelings, but in that moment you weren’t – you were kicking your mum out of her mum’s house!  You have come home upset on a number of occasions when children haven’t let you play with them, but, my dear, you reap what you sow.  Being kind might not make you powerful; it might not get you that dream job you want when you’re older, but it will make you loved and a world without love is not a world at all – I imagine it’s lonely and desolate, two feelings I don’t want you to ever experience. Therefore, always be kind.

I miss my two year old girl, the one who gave the tightest hugs; I miss my three year old girl, the one who was preparing to become a big sister and was so excited about it and I am certain to miss my four year old, the one who, in her first week of full time school, was so amazing that her teacher stopped in her car in the middle of a busy road to tell me just how awesome you had been at school that week.  Dropping you off on your first day at school, I admit that I got a little emotional and had to leave before a tear fell.  You were with a friend though, so I knew you were going to be fine and by ‘eck, you were totally fine. By the end of the week, you were a firm fixture at Art Club, lost both your jumper and cardigan and spoke incessantly about your new friends.  Recently, I met with your teacher; she spoke highly of you and your incredible imagination, but she mentioned that sometimes you forget when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play.  Don’t misunderstand me, having fun whilst working is extremely important.  My colleagues are a constant form of entertainment and I love how they make me laugh, but I know when it’s time to be serious too.  You tell me you love learning – so learn and never lose your thirst for it because it keeps you humble.

You tell the worst jokes.  But, that makes them the best:

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“I don’t know,”

“To do a poo.”

“Knock knock,”

“Who’s there?”

“Cattio,”

“Cattio who?”

“Cattio needs the toilet.”

Seriously, what does that even mean?

You’re funny.  What a wonderful quality to have.  Not only do you tell the worst jokes in the world, you dance like no one is watching (often with you bum out after a bath), you sing songs into Mummy’s Snap Chat, which she then shares with the two people she has added (yeah, sorry about that) and you tell the most random stories that often include the words ‘poo’ ‘bum’ ‘stinky’ or, if we are really lucky, all three.  Always en-devour to make people laugh just please just don’t do it sitting in an exam hall when you are about to sit a GCSE exam – especially not your English ones.

You’re learning to be a good sister. This week, during half term, I have watched you look after your brother and ask him for cuddles.  I have been marking a lot and kept a watchful eye on you both from behind my books on the table. There was one moment when I looked up to see you standing on your desk and your brother standing on the chair; you both were looking straight at me with fixed grins.  Afraid of any sudden movements, (in case you both jumped at the same time and I would have to choose who to save) I slowly put down my red pen and edged towards you both.  Through gritted teeth and a fake smile – so not to cause panic – I asked you to sit.  You obliged and so did your brother because he looks up to you.  In everything you do in life, always set a good example.    

This kid looks up to you so much!


Your final lesson is something I cannot teach you because I don’t think it is anything I have achieved.  It’s also not a lesson as such, but an accumulation of all of the above qualities.  I feel that if you achieve the above, then this should just fall into place.  I want you to dream big.  Don’t put a cap on what you think you can do with your life.  Too many times I have told myself that I can’t do something and too many times I have failed, given up and never tried again. Seek out adventure, find your passion and do what you love. Don’t settle; do what makes you happy.  If travelling the globe makes you happy, do it.  If falling in love with your childhood sweetheart and starting your own family makes you happy, do it.  And, if you ever find yourself in a situation that you don’t think would make your Mum and Dad happy or proud, tell us (as just not being afraid to tell us would make us happy) because you might be surprised. Ultimately, it’s your life and as your parents, we can only offer you guidance. At thirty-five, my mum still guides me, offers me advice (and still washes my wools) so don’t ever be afraid to ask for help if help is what you need to achieve your dream and be happy.  Dream big, but don’t take life for granted – you only get one.

You can’t wait to be five.

Well kid, here it is.

Enjoy it and kick the ass out of being five.

Same hair style gang!