The Teaching Mum

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


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The Rushed Hour – How to Nail the School Run.

7.26am and a call comes from downstairs.

“Right, I’m off.  I’ll see you all tonight,” Teaching Dad shouts.

With only one foot pulled into a pair of black tights, I quickly look up and scan my surroundings.  Zooming in, I clock that my girl still has un-brushed hair, no shoes on and is currently glued to the tattered and cracked thing that once upon a time resembled an iPad; my boy is heaving in a corner filling a new nappy with the good stuff holding firmly onto his second Fruit Shoot of the day.

What are you doing in that corner, love?


“Can you just…”

What?  Quick.  You only have a few seconds.  Put the towels in the washer, take the dirty nappy downstairs, make me a sandwich, wash up, help me dress the kids, help dress me. Something. Quick.  Anything.

“Can you just…”

The door slams.  Damn.  The moment is gone.

Once again, I survey my surroundings.  I figure I have twenty minutes before I have to leave the house and in that time I can:

Dress, change the boy’s bum, re-dress him, drag a brush through my girl’s hair, brush their teeth, put a wash on, transfer some washing to the dryer, take the collection of empty Fruit Shoot bottles downstairs, pack bags, run up and down stairs three times to check hair straighteners are turned off and eat something…(usually discarded toast from the boy.)

Come on! We have to go! Please, at least acknowledge me.


At 7.47am, I leave the house and I am running late.

My physical being needs to be at my school desk at 8.30am.

I notice snot hanging from my boy’s nose and because I don’t want to hand over a snotty child to the ladies at nursery, I dash back into the house for tissue.  Running back out, I lock the door and head to my car.  As soon as I turn the ignition on, I have no recollection of locking the door, so I run off to check the front door again.  It’s locked.  I wonder, once again, if my straighteners are switched off even though I know I moved them from my room into the spare room.  Who knows?  Perhaps plugs can fall from beds into plug sockets…back into the house I go.

7.53am and we arrive at nursery. Despite being very content at nursery, the boy usually cries and clings to some body part of mine. This morning, however, a small miracle occurred when he allowed me to put him down and he waddled off towards the breakfast table.

I wanted to kiss him goodbye.

In a millisecond, that feeling vanished.

“Quick!” I turned to my girl.  “Go go go!  Get out before he notices.”

We run out of the door, down the path to school, where we wait in line for Breakfast Club to open at 8am.

This is where it starts to get interesting.  And when I mean interesting, I mean this is where the adrenaline kicks in because there is only thirty minutes left of The Rushed Hour and I am still in possession of one child.

8.02am and the gate is opened by the most pleasant man.

“Good morning!” he greets everyone as we enter.

I smile politely at him whilst at the same time realising that despite being second in the queue this morning, three children and a parent have slipped in in front of us.

Damn-it!  I dropped the ball when I passed the time of day with the nice man at the gate.

Should I tell them that there was a line?  Should I try to trip one of them up?  No?  I’ll just say: “Urgh!  Mummy’s going to be late again,” really loudly.  It falls on deaf ears.  Already a pro at this, the school mum has no time to hear my complaints as she has her eyes on the target: the sign in and payment desk.

Upon reaching the desk, she then decides to have a conversation.  I know!  What on earth is wrong with people these days?  They actually want to pass the time of day with an actual human being.  Do they not know that in…argh…twenty six minutes I have a computer to switch on?

“Yes, well I used to have a security guard follow me around Tesco because my daughter used to scream that loud,” I hear her saying.

I begin to tap my foot loudly behind her because, you know, every little helps.

It doesn’t help.

“You’re going to have to go and pick your breakfast yourself babe because Mummy is going to have to leave straightaway.”

The mum and children wander off and it’s our turn.

“It’s £2 for today please,”

I hand over a ten pound note and start to explain that I need some change in return because my lovely and kind colleague bought me fish and chips last night at Open Evening and I have to pay him back.

Is that someone’s foot tapping behind me?

I pocket my change and together we go to pick some cereal and toast.  My girl sits down next to her friend, I grab her bag and coat and go to hang it up.  I stop.  I turn back and go and kiss her.  One child is going to get a kiss goodbye from me today.  I then go and drop her bag off in her cute little classroom, which makes me remember how untidy I left mine yesterday.

Another morning, another Fruit Shoot fuelled meltdown


I run to the car.

Cardio.

8.08am and I am driving to work.  I can make it with time to spare in twenty-two minutes…if I drive at 50mph…and am the only car on the road…

So, my journey plays out something like this:

“Don’t let him out!  Don’t let him out!  Don’t let him…oh.  Why’d you let him out?”

A few minutes pass and I am making good time until I reach the dreaded right turn onto a busy road.

There’s a few cars at the junction ahead of me.

“Don’t be turning right.  Don’t be turning right!”

There’s a learner driver waiting patiently in the car in front.

I put on some rock music to calm me down.  Unsurprisingly, it does quite the opposite, but at least the poor learner driver will think I am singing loudly rather than swearing profusely.

“Don’t turn right!”

They are wanting to turn right.  Eventually, they make it out of the junction and I turn to pull out straight behind them looking like I am being towed by an invisible tow rope.  I now need to take a left.

“Don’t you dare turn left.  Please don’t turn left.  Ooh pub.”

Yes!  They don’t turn left.

And, I am on it again.

Zooming up a hill and I can almost smell the scent of education in the air.

Then suddenly, a huge Eddie Stobart lorry pulls out a few cars in front of me and the pace slows to 10mph.  10mph!  Is that even a thing?

I finally reach another junction and, while in stand still traffic, I text my boss.  Stuck behind a lorry, I tell her.  I want to punch someone, I tell her. (I have never punched anyone or anything in my life, so I very much doubt that with five minutes left to get to school, I would actually get out of my car and go punch anyone – let alone a man driving a huge lorry…)

I receive a text back and she assures me not to worry and to drive safe!  God, love her!

By now, I am in the vicinity of my school and I can see pupils walking with their uniforms on and shirts hanging out.

“Get your shirts tucked in!” I yell.  After all, it’s 8.26am, so I am almost on the clock; I figure I might as well start doing some work.

Luckily, the sounds of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ probably (hopefully) drown me out.

Turning into the gates, I park my car, listen to the opening three chords of the next song, turn off the engine and climb out.  I rush through the door and into my classroom, change into my work shoes and switch on the computer.  At 8.29am, I saunter out into the corridor and walk calmly down to the staff room for our morning meeting.

It’s as if I have been here for hours.

Except, in my chest my heart is beating as fast as a Tre Cool drum solo.

The School Run: Nailed It!

Have you ever considered this, Mum? Why not stop taking pictures of me in my uniform and you might get to work in good time.

 

 

 

 


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It’s No Big Deal!

I was the first person to hold you when you came screaming into our world.

Birth is not a big deal, I thought, as I passed you to Daddy so he could meet his girl.

The midwife made a big deal when I said I didn’t know how to fasten a nappy,

It made me feel stupid and alone, when really I should have just felt happy.

I found feeding you so difficult at first, but I tried and tried and tried.

Health visitors thought I was being dramatic when the pain came and I cried.

But, I persevered; I fed you myself and in the end it wasn’t a big deal,

The long nights soon started and then the sh*t got real.

Sleep deprivation became a well known form of torture,

Never did you sleep in the lovely cot we bought you.

No big deal.

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About an hour old!

Tomorrow you start school and that’s no big deal,

You’re more than ready and this I know, but what’s this emptiness I feel?

Your uniform is hanging neatly in your darkened room,

And you’re sleeping right now so sweetly with your dreams dancing in full bloom.

“It’s your first day tomorrow! What will you do if Mummy cries?”

“It’s not a big deal, stop saying that!” Then you roll your eyes.

I can tell you’re ready, it’s plain to see because

When I talk about school, you literally beam with glee.

I hope it lives up to your expectations and is everything you want it to be,

I hope you make friends quickly and are not too shy like me.

But, if you find your first day tough, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal,

There’s always another day where you can start a fresh and put up a brand new shield.

Dream big, my girl!


There will be times when I can’t help, there will be issues you’ll have to deal.

And what you feel will one day be felt, because as time passes, you will heal.

Friends may come and friends may go, but please remain kind and true,

Popularity doesn’t matter as just long as you are you.

Mummy is looking forward to listening to your story books,

I won’t make a big deal when you learn new words; I will avoid your embarrassed looks.

It’ll be no big deal when you’re all dressed up, armed and ready to go.

I won’t fuss with your hair, take lots of photos and insist on the girly red bow.

 

As a teacher, I know you are in the best place you can be,

You need to learn from others and not just listen to nagging from me.

Your teachers will know you inside out and will know what it is you like to learn,

It’s not a big deal if you struggle at something; it’s okay to crash and burn.

But, it’s important that you stand back up again and tackle the challenge you face.

Your teachers won’t think it’s a big deal, in fact, they will think you’re ace.

As you go into your new school, I will go into mine too,

And I will greet new pupils who have butterflies in their tummies just like you.

I’ll smile, introduce myself and play down the importance of the day.

“Right!  Who know’s what a homophone is?  Let’s crack on.” is what I’ll say.

It’s alright to feel overwhelmed when you experience something new,

Just smile to yourself because it’s no big deal as friends will always find you.

Go get ’em kidda! (Mummy know it’s a huge deal really!) 

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You rocked Lower Foundation!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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First Days, Friendships and Embracing Those Nerves.

Can you feel those worms, darling?  The ones crawling in deep down in your tummy?  Can you feel them squirming around and making you feel a little bit funny?

Don’t worry, they are called nerves.  They feel pretty horrible don’t they?  I understand that they make you feel a little bit sick; I can see your eyes look wider than usual when you ask me questions about starting school in September.

Nerves are good.

Nerves show that you care.

Please don’t ever stop caring.

Nerves have followed Mummy around all of her life.  They follow her into interviews, they accompany her whenever she starts a new job and they linger in the corner of her classroom at the start of every new school year.  She feels them in the pit of her stomach when she speaks in assemblies and they play havoc with her voice when she wants to speak up for herself.

They show she cares.

They show up whenever she feels passionate about something.

I can see that you’re passionate too and I love that about you.

“Is it September yet?” you ask me daily.

“No baby, it’s still August.”  I say.  “Don’t wish summer away.  I’ve waited so long to share it with you.”

“I’m looking forward to big school, Mummy,” with your eyes wide, you try to assure me.

I smile because you are so much braver than me.  That part of you must come from Daddy.

A few days ago, I took you and your brother to the park.  As we entered, we were greeted by three children chanting both of your names and the eldest girl came running up to you with a big smile on her face.  My heart began to sing a little.  I asked her name and if she was in Lower Foundation at your school and she told me that she was.  Looking over to her mum, I smiled and walked over to her standing and pushing her youngest child on the swing.  We struck up a conversation and she was lovely.  I asked if her daughter was looking forward to starting school in September, and that was when she told me they had moved and her daughter would be attending another school in another village in September.

Such a shame.

A number of your friends in Lower Foundation are going to different schools and the thought of it makes the nerves start fluttering slightly deep down in my stomach because, despite you not moving schools, you may have to start your friendship circle from scratch. You, my dear, appear unfazed by this fact

“Even if they say no (to making friends) at first.  I’ll wait a bit and then ask them again.”

Oh God.  Stop pulling at these frayed heart strings of mine.

At four years old, I can see myself standing beside a wall on my first day at primary school with my only friend next to me. Together, we are looking on at two girls – twins in fact – running around a bench chasing each other.  How I longed to be like them and know some of the other children in my school. (One of the curses of being an only child, perhaps?) Nerves ate away at me that day and I ended up crying.  The second day was much the same and again it ended in tears.  I can’t remember the third day or the fourth, but that’s because I made more friends and I began to settle. The nerves vanished and I loved school and would continue to love it until the day I left at sixteen to go to college with the twins I watched running around a bench all those years earlier.  And what became of the girl who stood with me by the wall as I looked on through teary eyes?  You saw her yesterday; you’re friends with her daughter.  Alas, you won’t be going to the same school in September; I hope your friendship defies that obstacle.

Can some friendships stand the test of time?

Taking what I learnt from primary school, I shouldn’t be nervous for you should I? Instead, I should tell you that the friends you make there could be the friends you make for life.

I try to hide my nerves from you, but you overhear me talking to Daddy about them.

“I don’t have any ‘Mum friends’,” I say.  “I’m not from round here.”

“You’ll make them,” he says.

“When?  I am never at the school gates.”

He tells me not to worry and that I will see them at school events or at the park or in and around our village.  But, this just makes me realise that you haven’t really played with anyone your own age this holiday because we don’t live on a street with children.  I remember when we first moved into our home, your Granddad expressed his concern that there were no other children living nearby.  I didn’t really think much about it because you were eighteen months old and waddling around in a nappy.  Now that you are almost five, I can see that spark of independence in your eye and I know you should be out playing with children your own age.  This understanding hasn’t hit you; you don’t notice that the majority of our neighbours are retired, so it doesn’t bother you…yet. Guilt eats away at me over the fact that other than playing safely in the garden or at the park, you haven’t experienced the joys of ‘playing out’.  You haven’t soared up and down the street on your skateboard; you haven’t raced your friends ’round the block’ on your bike; you haven’t made a makeshift shop at the end of your drive and sold junk to passersby and you haven’t shouted what you think are hysterical witticisms (but, are actually annoying) at loved up teenagers across the road, who just want a couple of hours away from their parents.

I don’t think skipping up and down a high street classes as ‘playing out’.

Therefore, I worry once more that in this carefree summer, as you stand on precipice of a new beginning, you may fall into the space below because you haven’t quite got all of the friends you need to catch you yet.  I feel that this is my fault for working a lot and for taking piles of books to mark at children’s parties when I should be mingling with the other parents carving out new friendships and arranging play dates.  Perhaps it’s both mine and your Dad’s fault for choosing the quiet street, the safe street, the street where we can look out onto fields as opposed looking out onto a pair of loved up teenagers sitting on a bench, holding hands just trying to get a couple of hours alone away from their parents.  Perhaps we should have considered what you would want from a house and a street.

“Kids don’t really play out anymore,” your Daddy assures me.

Isn’t that such a shame?

Playing out helped me make more friends and cement the friendships I already had because the games we played out on the streets forced their way into the conversations we had at school in between learning the alphabet and reciting our timetables.

I wonder, do your nerves start to rear their head when I ask you to blend a word for me?  I think I sense a sudden panic when I ask you what d-o-g spells over and over again.  You know that Mummy teaches English and you’re eager to please, so rather than concentrate on the letters, you spurt out random words in quick succession.  You sense the apprehension in my voice as I quicken how I say ‘d-o-g’ ‘d-o-g’ and then you just laugh and tell me that it says ‘dog’.

“Oops!” you say.  “I’m only kidding.  I know what it spells.”

Do you?

On your last day in Lower Foundation, I was able to pick you up from school because I too had broken up for the summer holidays.  Your teacher came out to see me and I thanked her for everything she had done for you over the year.  I wasn’t feeling any emotions over you finishing Lower Foundation, after all, you would be returning in September.  No big deal.

Your teacher told me that you are a good girl, a kind girl, a girl who knows right from wrong.  She told me that you played with all the children in the class and that you showed compassion to others when it was needed.  Finally, she told me that you would be in a class with some older children when you start your Literacy lessons in September.  At that statement, my vision blurred as my concern for you washed away.

As it turns out, you do know your letters; maybe you were just kidding all along.  I had no need to feel nervous for you.

However, no matter what path you choose in life, I will always feel those little worms.

Because they show I care.

When you’re standing at the gates on your first day at school and you can feel the nerves creeping into your tummy.

Embrace them.

It shows you care.

Your first day in Lower Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Momma’s Got to Werk!

The definition of ‘werk’ from the Urban Dictionary (so it must be true): A congratulatory declaration of support, praise or approval, for an outstanding achievement in any area of life.

Sometimes it feels like I am the only full time working mum in the world.

But, that’s because, for the most part, I am an idiot.

I am, of course, acutely aware that there are millions of us working parents out there who are doing our best to annihilate the guilt that whispers in our ears every morning as we leave our children in various places.  Be sure, when I say ‘various places’, I mean Grandparents and nursery and school – I don’t mean the bread aisle in the local Co-op.  We know deep down that even though our choice to work full time was a difficult one, (or a necessity for me as we stupidly bought a house we couldn’t afford) it is a choice we made with our children at the forefront of our minds.

Grandma picked these two up from the bread aisle in the Co-op…

Then there are teaching mums.

And, of course, there are teaching dads and teaching assistant parents and learning supervisor parents. I could go on, but I always set a limit of 1500 words, otherwise people zone out…I can already see your eyes drifting over to the Amazon advert in the corner…

What I am trying to say without offending anyone is that the parents who work in schools and with young people have it hard.  We have it hard because we work in a job that requires us to care for a large number of children as much as we care for our own – but in a very different way.  We have a sense of duty to them; we keep them safe in a world of uncertainty; we work hard so we can watch them succeed and we are interested to find out what they have achieved in life beyond school and how they have made their mark on the world.

Sometimes we have to pick them over our own children.

Not just because it’s our job, but because it’s a part of who we are.

So, to all of the working parents out there.

I see you.

I am you.

To the mum sitting in her car with her head in her hands as guilt whispers softly in her ears, I see you.  Do you know why?  Because, last week, I was you. I not only missed my daughter’s first ever sports’ day, but I forgot all about it.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that I didn’t know about it because the newsletter that was carefully placed in her bag went unread.  I know.  Bad mum.  In my defence, when I come in from work after picking up my children, the last thing I think of is to check the school bag.  Come September, when my daughter starts full time school, perhaps I should prioritise checking her bag for important documents.  However, after a day of teaching, I want to hug my children and watch ‘Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures’ and silently debate as to whether I think Andy is fit or not.

I still haven’t decided on that one.

I like his hair.

But, his nostrils are pretty flarey. (Is that even a word?  It is now, I am an English Teacher after all…)

Anyway, back to my story.  I dropped my daughter at her nursery (that’s a part of our local school) to be greeted by four year olds wearing trainers, t-shirts and shorts. My daughter, however, had on her red school uniform and black patent shoes.  She looked up at me and I looked down at her.

“Is it Sports’ Day?” I asked.

Everyone nodded.

Bugger.

Fret not, the nursery workers assured me, they had spare kits that my girl could borrow.  Regressing back to almost twenty years ago, I recalled the one time I had to borrow PE kit from the lost and found box at school. Recoiling from the memory of big blue PE knickers that weren’t mine, and the stigma attached, I refused to be beaten.

“Give me ten minutes!” I said to no one in particular and dashed out of the door to race home to retrieve my daughter’s shorts, t-shirt and trainers.

When I returned to nursery, it was noted how quickly I had returned (winner of the three legged race circa 1989 I will have you know…) and helped my girl into her PE kit.

I overheard a mum telling her son not to worry if he dropped the egg and that it was the taking part that was important. And she was right.  All that mattered was that the children had a good day.

In saying that though, I am quite competitive having played netball since I was ten years old.

Leaning into my daughter’s ear I whispered: “Go out there and win.”  We fist bumped because we are cool like that, but then she unintentionally dropped the guilt bomb in my face and it exploded.

“Are you staying to watch?” She asked.

This bomb caused tears to well in my eyes.

“No, baby. Mummy’s got to go to work.”

My heart felt like lead as I left the building.  There was no dashing this time; I dragged my feet because I didn’t want to leave.

But, I had to.  Other children needed me – I had my job to do.

I was the parent sitting with my head in my hands in the car. The clock was ticking; I was close to being late for work.

I called my Mum.

Sports’ Day started at 9am and by this time it was ten past eight.

I woke her and she told me that she had an appointment at the opticians.

She assured me that she would try to pull a few strings and told me to get myself to work.  Thankfully, she was able to do her own sprint finish and make it to sports’ day and in time and just as I was about to teach my first class of the day, she sent me a wonderful photo of my girl jumping along a Hop Scotch grid.

Did you win?

I thanked the Lord for grandparents.

My guilt was still with me though as I dropped the ball.

I missed another big event.

Another first.

Later on in the same week, I attended a presentation evening for our pupils.  I, along with a large number of colleagues, stood and cheered on pupils who were receiving recognition for their hard work and commitment throughout the year. I am certain that not all parents could make it; they too could have been missing a first. So I stood with my colleagues and we applauded their children because that’s what we do. I am in no doubt that there was a teacher standing on a grass verge cheering on my daughter last week perhaps missing a first of her or his own because that’s what we do.

In all honesty, there will be lots of firsts that I will miss and that’s life. There will be seconds and thirds that I get to experience and it’s those moments I will cherish rather than dwell on the ones I have missed.

Tomorrow, we go on holiday for the first time in three years.  That’s one of the many good things about being a teaching mum isn’t it? The holidays. I am looking forward to the many firsts I will experience over the next six weeks. However, the Dude has developed a penchant for climbing, so here’s hoping they’re all positive firsts…

So, to the mum sitting on a sun lounger with her head in her hands feeling guilty because she wants a moment’s peace.

I see you.

I am you.

Fancy grabbing a cocktail?

Me on holiday…

Enjoy your summer, folks!

The plan for the six week holiday Vs the reality

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday