The Teaching Mum

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


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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


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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