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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Tunnel Vision

I love to watch the television.

Like, I really love to watch it.

If I am being specific here, I actually love Sky Atlantic.

As in, I am a little obsessed with it.

I don’t actually know how I existed without it in my life and I can’t tell you how elated I become when I see the image of a luxury Volvo smoothly driving down a picturesque, snowy road accompanied by the low sultry European voice that speaks only to me.

“Volvo.  Sponsors of Sky Atlantic.”

In my excitement, my over used and under exercised pelvic floor lets me down again as I sink back into my sofa and watch.

To add to this almost perfect moment in time, if I have a hot cup of Yorkshire Tea and two Tesco double chocolate shortcake biscuits ready to dunk, then I have died and gone to heaven.  Metaphorically I mean – I would expect only Marks and Spencer biscuits in actual heaven and possibly more than two at a time because you would be dead and I don’t think only two biscuits would suffice in this case.  Anyway, I digress…This moment – sitting in front of Sky Atlantic with tea and chocolate – is the closest I get to ecstasy, euphoria and that feeling of ‘Yabba Dabba Bloody’ Do’.  I know what you’re thinking: ‘Boy, she needs to get out more’ and ‘I gotta try me two of those Tesco biscuits.’  And you’re absolutely correct, I do and you do.

Imagine it: Sunday morning, an empty living room, the leather sofa, the television opposite you, the toys –  that usually scatter the floor – rammed into near by cupboards and drawers (yes Elsa, I can see that your head is poking out of my daughter’s desk, but I don’t care), the boiled kettle, the new biscuit packet waiting to be ripped open like a cheap dress from Primark.  The scene is set.  The Sky remote is waiting for you on the sofa; inviting you to caress its little round ‘standby’ button, the curtains are still drawn closed and the room is almost looking like a cinema.  Almost.

Then your one year old son toddles in behind you with a nappy hanging low and heavy, like a damp sleeping bag.  To add insult to injury, he waddles over to the television, holds onto the stand and heaves.  And then he heaves again and again maintaining eye contact with you throughout.

“You’re not watching television, Mum,” that stare says.  “You’re going to be wading through my morning poo for the next ten minutes and I ate sweet corn last night, so watch out.”

And I hadn’t even managed to turn on ‘standby’.

The Dude in his ‘I make a better door than a window’ pose.

However, because I am now a Mum of two, I have got this nappy changing malarkey down to a fine art.  And when I say ‘art’, I mean that I can change a nappy in under two minutes, on a grey rug in the living room with minimal amounts of flipping from the Dude.  So that’s what I did.  I quickly changed his nappy, dressed him, wiped his nose, retrieved some toys from their hiding places and sat down again in front of the television. (With a bag of Freddos).

You have a Freddo and I will have the remote.

Two weeks ago, I discovered a new programme on Sky Atlantic.  Well, actually, it’s not new at all – it is three years old, but because it starred Stannis Baratheon and I refused to believe that Stannis Baratheon could be anyone but Stannis Baratheon, I didn’t watch it the first time round.  More fool me.  But then I spotted it again on Sky Boxsets and suddenly all ten episodes were downloaded instantly and served to me on a plate.  An hour later, one episode down and I was hooked on British/French thriller, ‘The Tunnel’.

Watching the first two episodes was relatively easy as I watched them one evening when the munchkins were asleep and the Other Half was out.  Sunday morning, however, was different because I was on borrowed time.  I already had the one year old with me and it was only a matter of time before my girl joined us and demanded ‘PJ Masks’ be put on instantly.  Could I sneak episode three in before she woke?  Would it be appropriate for me to watch a programme that featured a body that had been cut in half, the drugging and killing of the elderly and a man who wielded a Samurai sword almost as good as ‘Kai from Ninjago’?  Of course it wouldn’t be, but he is one – he barely knows where his nose it.  So, on went the ‘standby’ button and the image of a Volvo filled my screen.  I stroked my son’s hair, wiped his nose and played with toy dinosaurs in an attempt to keep him placid.  The opening credits rolled and suddenly the Truth Terrorist was about to reveal his third truth.

Here comes the Volvo!

Then, my Girl, like a mini hurricane, stormed into the room and my dream was gone.  The ecstasy and euphoria dissipated, the newly unwrapped biscuit was snatched from my hand, my tea – now lukewarm – was left discarded and my TV programme, my beloved TV programme, was paused at three minutes.

Three minutes of peace was all I got.

Three minutes of TV heaven.

Three minutes of swear words and images probably deemed unsuitable for a one year old (and definitely for a four year old.)

Three minutes. Pfft.

‘PJ Masks’!

Reluctantly, I obliged.

By this time, it was 8.15am and both my son and I had been up since 6.30am.  After tapping away on my phone for the best part of half an hour, I whispered into the Dude’s ear: “Where’s Daddy?”  Like a moth to a flame, he jumped up and waddled to the stair case.  My girl, who is afraid to stay in any room alone, raced after us and together we climbed the stairs.

“Shuuush,” I said loudly. “Let’s not wake Daddy.  We should go back down stairs.”

Ignoring me, *fist pump* the children ran into see Daddy (who was feeling delicate from the night before) in bed and I raced back down stairs to my (now messy) haven.  There was washing up that needed to be done, snotty tissues that needed flushing, a thousand Fruitshoots that needed hiding away and a slightly whiffy nappy bag that needed binning, but Stannis Baratheon, who was now called Karl Roebuck, was calling out to me that he was stuck on three minutes and had a terrible crime to solve.

I raced through the Sky Planner and within seconds, my television screen was filled with a dreary Calais police station.

Yes!

Nine minutes passed by.

Ten.

Twelve.

“Mummy!”  Shouted the Other Half.  “He is on the landing roaming around.  Come and get him.”

You get up then! Get up, get up, get up!  I screamed in my head, but being the dutiful partner and mother that I am, I obliged once again and hit pause.

At 10.20am, the grandparents called (by far the two greatest people on Earth) and came to take the munchkins for a couple of hours.  I usually take this time to clean the house and mark a set of books. On Sunday however, as soon as the house door closed, on the kettle went, out the biscuits came and the TV, once again, was un-paused and for forty-three glorious minutes I watched my own TV programme.

Later that evening, after the children were asleep and after my ironing pile was tackled, the Other Half joined me on our sofa.

“Fancy watching ‘Modern Family’?

As if I could cheat on Sky Atlantic with Sky One.

Pulling out some Peppa Pig headphones and our old battered iPad.

“No,” I said. “I am going to watch another ‘Tunnel’.”

And there I sat in silence for an hour wearing my daughter’s headphones as I watched another episode while the Other Half watched UFC on the TV sitting next to me.

As I read this back now, I worry that I am giving you an insight into not one, but two unhealthy relationships.

But, hey, at least I am on season two of ‘The Tunnel’ now!

Why, hello Sky Go!

 

 

Rhyming with Wine