The Teaching Mum

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


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The Tale of the Hidden Gem and the Magical Golden Arches. 

When silence fills your house, it can only be one of two things: your children are sleeping peacefully or your one year old son is knee deep in a tub of Sudocrem.

Of course, for us on Sunday morning, it was the latter. The Dude, while I was downstairs shoving a load of sicky PJs into the washing machine (mine and his from a tidal wave of milk sick at 7.30pm last night), decided to paint our grey carpet white so Mummy could impress you all by using a metaphor to describe the carpet as being a blanket of snow that coated a gloomy landscape on a dismal winter’s day.  Not really!  He did it because he can be a pain in the ass sometimes.

Snatching at the Sudocrem, which resulted in him throwing a paddy and then face planting the now white carpet, I lured him from the landing using the only thing I had to hand – a Fruitshoot sitting unopened next to my daughter’s bed.  Now, at this point, she was sleeping soundly, however, ‘Sudocremgate’ must have woken her from her slumber because she stirred, woke and sat up.

She watched in horror as her brother’s Sudocrem laced fingers traced the opening of the bottle.  She screamed as she saw him lift the bottle to his lips – the lips that gleamed with the snot from the tantrum.

“My Fruitshoooooot!”

The world as we know it ended.

Despite this, today was going to be glorious and I didn’t panic.  How did I know this?  Well, the sun was shining and we were having a day out at a children’s theme park called ‘Wheelgate Park’.  It was going to be a family day out.  Yes, the Other Half was coming too.  Now, because of his very real and very serious condition called Othertowncilitus, we very rarely go on family trips out, so today was going to be great.

As agreed the previous night with some friends, the trip was to start at 9.30am whereby we would set off in our separate cars and meet at a theme park in Mansfield.  We had a plan.

At 9am, I still resembled Lion-O from Thundercats as the mane had yet to be tamed.  By 9.15, the GHDs had worked their magic and I was almost looking fit for public consumption.  The Other Half, however, was laying un-showered on the bed with ‘Uptown Funk’ on repeat in a bid to get the Dude to dance (just like he did at the party below.)


By 9.45, we were on our way.

By  9.50 the girl asked her first ‘Are we there yet?’ and we replied by offering her an endless supply of Haribo fizzy dummies to keep her satiated.

When she seemed settled, I pulled out my Kindle in a bid to satisfy my current reprisal of my ‘Game of Thrones’ addiction by reading ‘Storm of Swords’.  Robb Stark is alive, Jaime still has two hands and Joffrey is still a sick little bugger.  The Kindle opened and for half an hour, I was in Westeros.

I saw your sons die, that night in the Whispering Wood…  

“Ooooh, I know where we are.  My training school was down this road.”

Lord Karstark spit out a broken tooth…

“The school offered me a job you know.  Just think, if I had accepted it, I would never have me you.”

“Would you have been happier?”  I asked.

Silence accompanied by a distant faraway look in his eyes.

Gods be good.  Catelyn felt ill again.  Yeah, I knew that feeling well.

Within an hour we arrived.  I had read at least three pages of my Kindle, the girl had finished her dummies, the Dude had had a good sleep and the Other Half – “Ooh look, a Tesco, we can treat ourselves on the way back” – had finished telling me his stories.

We met our friends and their two children and in we went.

What a hidden little gem Wheelgate Park was.  On offer were rides, play areas, trampolines, sand pits, animals, immense soft plays and a tropical paradise of plants, crocodiles and mating tortoises. (I don’t think they were mating – just ‘playing’.)

Just get off my back will you!

The crème de la crème though had to be the water park.  There was a sizable and very impressive outdoor water park.  Ordinarily I would avoid something like this like the plague because when you have a fringe and no plug to plug in your GHDs then water, I am afraid, is not your friend.  However, today it was 24 degrees.  I was wearing shorts for God’s sake.  My legs, that had not seen light since July 2015 were on show, therefore, it felt right to visit the waterpark.  Now being the ridiculously organised parent that I am, I packed a swimming costume and a towel for my daughter and she quickly changed into it and demanded to hit the waves.  I can see that you’re impressed by the fact that I got something right: it was a hot day, there was a water park and my girl had a swimming costume.  The impressive thing though, the skill you should really be admiring is the fact that I failed to bring my own swimming costume.  No, dear readers, this was not a mistake.  This was me making a statement.

Hello! Not seen you guys in a while.

No one in Mansfield needed to see me outside wearing a swimming costume.

The fringe was going to stay firmly in place.

My eyeliner flicks were not going to run.

And Daddy would be taking his daughter to paddle in the cold depths of the, undeniably awesome, water park.

Less than an hour’s drive from us.

After lunch and after we had dried, we continued to make our way though the park.  We found an adventure playground, the children ran around it for half an hour and my friend and I saw a lovely lady, who was wearing a short white linen dress, bend over a little too far and unknowingly reveal to us the fact that she had chosen to wear black knickers today despite her wearing white and it being very hot.  Knowing what was about to play out in front of us, we both simultaneously cringed for her and made our way towards the animals.

So many things to do!

I have to say that the reptile house housed some of the biggest lizards I had ever seen.  There was a giant iguana trying to high five my son; I was so impressed that I couldn’t help but encourage him to high five it back.  It was then that I spotted a picture of a tarantula.  I have an irrational fear of spiders.  But, because I am weird, I have to torture myself by standing and looking at them.  Glancing down at my feet, I saw them start moving towards the glass cases hidden in a corner.  I saw a father telling his daughter all about the spider lurking in one of the cases.  Then, in slow motion, I saw him pretend to slide the door open and pretend to throw the non-existent spider onto his daughter.

“Oh my God!” I cried.  “Don’t do that!”

He looked over to me and for a moment, his eyes bore into me and I saw him wish that he did actually have the tarantula in his hand because he would have thrown it at the interfering woman (with a GHDed fringe and perfect eye liner flicks) who was ruining his ‘Daddy Daugher’ time.

“I can’t handle this,” I shouted.  I pushed past some other mums and found my way back to my own party who were leaving to reptiles to enter the more serine, but smellier, rodent habitat.

Now, Rabbits I could handle.

After the animals, we found ourselves in the soft play.  Even though, it was a glorious day, we remained in the soft play area for a while.

Why?

Because the Dude lost his shoe in the ball pool, that’s why.  This was entirely my fault.  As he is only one and because somewhere deep within me, there resides a rebel, I decided against taking his shoes off because they are a ‘bugger’ to get back on.  My friend and I were happy swimming amongst a sea of E. coli infested balls with our youngest until I realised that a Clarks First Steps was missing.  Together, we searched the pool while my friend’s son was being used as target practice by an unruly four year old.

“Stop throwing balls!” I yelled.  “I’ll give you a tenner if you find a shoe.”

“And I’ll take a pound off every time you hit me with a ball,” my friend added. “Ow!”

Ten minutes later and I was about to call off the search.  My hands delved in for one last sweep of the bottom of the ball pool (for those of you who are interested – it feels grainy, dusty and you can feel the filth climbing its way into your nails) and lo and behold, I found the shoe.

“I’ve found it!” I cried triumphantly.  It felt like I had won a crystal in The Crystal Maze.

With out children under our arms, we waded out from the ball pool and made our way to the exit of the park.

Let’s play ‘find the over priced shoe!’

Finding the Dude’s shoe was like finding a hidden gem, but finding out about this theme park was like finding a treasure trove.  It was a fab day out.

What about the Magical Golden Arches you ask?  On the journey home, we stopped at McDonalds of course.  While everyone enjoyed their burgers in the sunshine, I found myself sitting in the car with a sleeping Dude.  Therefore, I opened my Kindle and the characters came alive for me again.

I told you it was going to be a glorious day.

And this was bliss.

Who doesn’t read Game of Thrones after a family day out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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And now my watch has ended…

And now my maternity leave has ended, I mean…Enough with the Game of Thrones references!

Right then, my littlest one, where to begin. You are almost eight months as I write this, so let’s take you back to the start.

I finished work on the 18th December 2014 at 37 weeks and a day pregnant. Three years previous to this, I had given birth, very quickly, to your sister at 37 weeks and a day. As you can imagine, I waddled out of the car park as fast as my swollen little fat legs would carry me, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in one hand and a blue Tesco monster pencil case in the other. I feared that you might arrive right there in the school car park.

But then, my little bundle of joy, you kept us waiting.  You allowed your Grandma to have her birthday on the 23rd December and you decided not to share your birthday with your Daddy on Christmas Eve. I spent Christmas Day cross legged, uncomfortable and sober in a dress that was way too tight and short for a heavily pregnant woman to be wearing over the Festive Period and in utero you stayed.  You chose not to make an entrance while I was partying the night away (nursing a cup of tea) on New Year’s Eve. My birthday on the 3rd January came and went which meant I was not allowed to eat goat’s cheese when Grandma treated us all to a birthday meal.  Daddy then returned to work after the Christmas festivities were all over.

On the morning of the 7th January, I dropped your sister at nursery and decided to get my priorities in order by watching one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad. It was the Ozymandias episode and for those of you familiar with the series, it was one of the most intense things I have ever watched. I was screaming away at the TV with my raspberry leaf tea in one hand and my whole (yes whole) pineapple in the other. After the episode had finished, I decided to go the bank, as you do.

It was in Natwest Bank in Pontefract when you decided to start your descent into the world. Paying in my money, I could feel a trickle down my leg. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that I knew you were on your way and no one else around me did. In those moments, my friend text me to see how I was getting on in my very pregnant state and I told her that my waters were slowly breaking in the bank.  The somewhat tenuous link to Breaking Bad was not lost on me and I made a mental note to try to watch the final two episodes before you popped into the world.  In a state of panic, my friend wanted to come and retrieve me from the bank, but I calmly reassured her that I would drive home and call your Dad. And I did. I also managed to watch about twenty minutes of the penultimate Breaking Bad before I admitted to myself that my contractions were quite strong and about three minutes apart.

We arrived at our local midwife led unit (five minutes from our house) and you were born about an hour and a half later. Like your sister, you didn’t wait around and we were back home for 8pm after I had been forced into having a bath while my midwife watched me, dried me and randomly commented on how tall I was. Once home, I managed to watch the end of Breaking Bad…(no I didn’t, you got cuddles and I suffered with after birth pains!)

This is in the early days when you slept. Remember sleep? No, I don’t either.

So my dear boy, in the last eight months you have changed our lives. You were the most laid back new born ever.  You latched on and fed instantly, you barely cried, you fell asleep on your own in your cot, on your playmat and in my arms. But, then at the end of May when I was due to start moderating coursework, something just flipped. And it was you. The day you learnt to flip over was the day that changed you forever. You are still the most loved and most beautiful boy I know, but when you throw yourself forward, flip over, arch your back and scream and scream, I just don’t know what to do. I dread putting you in a sleepsuit as it usually results in me either covered in wee, sick or both and I end up chasing after you as you attempt an escape and make a mad dash for the stairs.

Which leads nicely onto your crawling. Ah, yes, my clever little boy, you learnt to crawl a couple of weeks ago. Two months earlier than your sister no less. And when you learnt to crawl, did you start slowly? Did you ease yourself into this ‘being able to move around the house at your own free will’ thing? Did you chuff. You launched into crawling like a rocket into space; if you’re not wrapped in electric cables or chewing on the Sky box then I worry for you. If you’re not heading full speed towards the fireplace to eat some faux coal then I think you’re under the weather.

I wish I was making it up when I say that last week, I found you with a piece of fake coal in your mouth and I had to wrestle it out of your locked jaws.

At seven months, you’re standing! Standing! What’s all that about? I can see you looking up at the stairs knowing that they are your Everest and I can see the cogs in your head turning thinking ‘this time next week and I will have conquered you, you b@stard’ and I will be the nervous wreck rocking in the corner with a glass of red wine in one hand and with the other outstretched to catch you in case you fall. And maybe one day in the future, you will fall, but please know, my son, I will always be there to catch you.

You have grown so much in the seven and a half months that we have known you and you have brought us so much love and happiness; our family is complete. I love you, your Daddy loves you and your sister, despite not allowing you to play, touch or lick anything that belongs to her, she loves you too; I think that someday soon you two will be the best of friends and the worst of enemies. Being an only child myself, I can’t wait to watch this all unfold.

And now my watch maternity leave has ended and I return to work full time this week. My boy, it has been a blast. You have provided me with laughter, tears, giggles and gipping.  Plus, you have even given me an under active thyroid. However, now it’s my turn to provide for you. I want you to know that I go out to work every day so that you and your sister won’t want for anything (and so we can pay the damn mortgage). I want you to learn that through hard work and determination you can achieve anything and be fulfilled in the career path you will, one day, choose. I want you to know that when I leave you crying at Grandma’s or at nursery that I am thinking about you lots throughout the day. I want you to know that even though you share me with lots of other children, you are mine and I am yours.  Always.

Mummy is going to be very busy and tired for the next few years so just do me a favour, my Ninja Flippin’ Dude, and sleep.

For like seven hours straight.

That would be lovely.

Lots of love, Mum. (The slightly dishevelled person you wake every two hours to use as a human dummy.) xxx

You’re mine and I am yours.


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A Clash of Kindles 

A little context:

Remember when you were a kid and you got yourself so immersed in a book that you lost hours in the day? Was it just me? I would sit in my room and read and read and read. 

We were once on a flight home from a holiday in Turkey and the plane landed and then suddenly took flight again due to there already being a plane on the runway. My mum was terrified (so much so that she needs a drink before she steps on a plane these days) where as I never took my nose out of my Point Horror book.

I am a little obsessed with ‘Game of Thrones’ at the moment and finished reading the first book two years ago on holiday; to read one whole book was a miracle with a then 20 month girl. I started reading ‘A Clash Of Kings’ as soon as I returned home from that holiday and I am still reading it now. I am on page 479…

Having recently watched series five on Sky, I have started reading again. However, having two young people hanging off me day and night, a house to clean, too many American TV series to watch, and come September, there will be work to complete, my reading is falling by the wayside and it’s making me sad. So here is my ode to my lovely lonely Kindle written with a glass of red wine in hand and with my tongue firmly in cheek.

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The Ninja Flippin’ Dude loves my discarded Kindle.

It was Christmas 2012 and Santa had been along with his elves.

Lying hidden amongst the girl’s presents and tinsel, there was a box marked ‘Amazon Kindle’.

Now, being a lover of books and pages, I was assured a love would blossom that would defy the ages.

I read a few novels that I bought and owned. But one day there was an offer on ‘Game of Thrones’.

Laying by a pool, I read it, loved it and saw my obsession begin. So much so, I paid full price for ‘A Clash of Kings’.

Two years down the line, it cuts a lonely figure laying on my bed. I’d even forgotten that Ned Stark lost his head.

I delve in and out and Arya is a prisoner at Harrenhal and even though I have seen all the series, I wonder, will she ever make it to the damn Wall?

I’ve read about Jon Snow getting beaten by Craster and yet I know he stupidly allows Sam Tarley to leave and be a Maester.

Ah my Kindle, my son’s favourite chew toy. How will I ever learn the fate of Ned’s Bastard boy?

The girl plays with you and pretends you’re a phone and I’ve so often left Sansa mid chapter at King’s Landing lost and alone.

I notice my fonts have been changed again and again and despite book marking my page, I can’t find Daenerys Targaryen.

Ah my Kindle how many bedrooms have you been thrown across? I need to keep reading to learn more about the Free Cities of Essos.

Will you ever sleep for longer than an hour, my son? Just so I can see if Tywin Lannister ever marches on Riverrun.

The characters are frozen and locked in an electronic state. Will poor Ned’s bones make their way back to his beloved Cate?

And what becomes of the evil King Joff? Okay, so I’ve seen season four and I know he’s killed off.

Ah reading for pleasure, I miss you so dearly. Long gone are the literary worlds I once imagined so clearly.

My Kindle, a device so often chewed that my girl actually thinks you belong to the Ninja Flippin’ Dude.

I know I am complaining about my lack of time and the desire to read my Kindle, but my life is so much richer now that I am no longer childless and single…!

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You want this do you? Don’t be daft, I’m awake!

A Cornish Mum