The Teaching Mum

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


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School Run Ins 

I started writing this post three weeks ago…that’s how long it takes me!

First up I’ll tell you that I am not a ‘School Run Mum’. No, I am a ‘grab all your bags and kids under one arm, race to nursery, realise your child has no socks on, forget your cheque book for payment again, apologise profusely again, run out of the door and drive to work sixty mile to the dozen Mum.’ But, of course, you knew that all ready.

This morning, after another terrible night, with my little Dude (a temperature in the 40s and an ear infection) we were turned out on our asses by nursery as he hadn’t been on antibiotics for 48 hours and I found myself suddenly facing a double drop off and a busy M62.

Crap.

I was going to be late. Proper late. Now, perhaps only teachers will really appreciate and understand this, but to feel really in control of your day ahead, you should arrive a good thirty minutes before morning meetings and form time.  Before children, I would arrive promptly, sort my emails out, make sure all my resources were in order, plan my lessons for the next day and hell, I’d even get some books marked.  Nowadays my pupils are lucky if I have even have my coat off and dress on the right way round (I once had to do a mad dash to the toilets before staff briefing to change one black dress around.  I was twiddling with a button on my collar when I realised that there wasn’t usually a button there…) I can usually be found writing the learning objectives on the board while still balancing my handbag on my arm and with my car keys dangling from my mouth.

But, hey, at least my objectives are always on the board.

This morning however, I was late.  Five minutes late.  I sent a frantic text while sandwiched between two lorries on the M62. ‘I may need cover for my form,’ it read. ‘I’m stuck on the motorway.  I will review the situation in twenty minutes and text back.’

Twenty minutes later, I was zooming down a country lane determined to make it in time for form.  I did.  Just.  But I missed staff briefing.  Damnit. The briefing that all staff must attend.

Sitting at my desk during my free period, probably looking a little dishevelled and red eyed from the night previous, our lovely HR lady came to see if I was okay.

“We’re worried about you,” she said. “We know you’ve got a lot on and saw that you were panicking about running late this morning.”

“Will it go on my record?” I asked.

‘No.’

I sighed with relief.  I am proud of my almost perfect (one blip – which was the Dude’s fault a couple of weeks ago when he decided it would be fun to throw up all day) attendance record.

She explained that she was there as a mother to offer support and advice. She told me that if I needed anything, I only had to ask.

“Um, can you pay my mortgage for a couple of months?” I suggested.

She chuckled.

I was being serious.

This got me thinking.  What on earth do I look like to others?  It can’t be good if I have HR offering to pay my mortgage support.  Perhaps I don’t have quite the handle on mornings as what I should have by now.  Let me show you how I daily kick ass on a morning and when I say ‘kick’ I really mean ‘suck’.  Not only do I suck ass at getting ready on a morning, I am usually doing it with either milk, snot or poo somewhere about my person.  None of which is mine, I might add.  Well, at least I don’t think it is…

I wake before my alarm because, like my son, I am programmed to wake every hour.  However, unlike my son, I am hanging out of one side of the bed (the side changes in accordance to the last boobage) and one arm is often raised above my head, frozen there from the last lay down feed.  Each morning, I consider asking God for detachable arms in the next life.  Imagine it.  You can take them out of their socket like a Barbie doll, leave them at the side of your bed and roll around to your heart’s content without them getting stuck in awkward positions.  Detachable arms – they’re the future.  Now, whilst dreaming up the idea that detachable arms might be my way to make a million, (cos my writing sure ain’t doing it) I realise that I have stupidly left my phone right next to the Dude’s head and within seconds the alarm is about to sound.  Trying to move my numbed arm, and without waking the snoozing child, I attempt to reach my phone before it vibrates.  My mind wonders again as I see a flaw in my detachable arm plan when BEEP BEEP BEEP, the alarm sounds and wakes him up.  Once again, no private shower for me then.

Having finished my three minute power shower, I feel refreshed and awake. Not because the soothing hot water hammered it’s way into my skin and awoken my soul but because I am forced to play a mean tug o’ war with the Dude.  It’s mean because if he loses, he ends up with a shower door in his face (he doesn’t realise this as he continues to initiate the daily game) and if I lose, I end up flat on my arse in a dingy dirty shower which despite my weekly scouring efforts still looks like a bunker from WW2 abeit a blue and white tiled one, but still a filthy bunker all the same.  So after the shower comes the dressing. I’m not going to focus on the dressing of me.  I won’t lie – it’s not pretty.  It usually involves me half wrapped up in a purple dressing gown with the boy using me as a standing prop while trying to eat my mascara.  I thought I would focus on dressing the girl.

Or rather chasing the girl around the house, rugby tackling her and pulling her out of her pyjama bottoms as she lays on the carpet screaming for the ‘hi-pad’. It usually ends in tears.  Either hers, mine or both.  When dressing her, she likes to play a hysterical game of ‘dead weight’ where she just lets all her limbs hang lose and she flops over and often knocks me over revealing the big pants that hold up my tights to the Other Half who has just enjoyed a relaxing shower having already eaten his breakfast.  I have yet to eat.

Ah, yes, breakfast.  It is, without doubt, the most important meal of the day.  I do make a solid effort not to miss it and in order to make sure I eat, I buy Weetabix.  Not because it is the tastiest cereal on the supermarket shelf, but because it is the quickest to eat.  I can inhale two sugar coated Weetabix in less than twenty seconds.  Having already eaten a nourishing bowl of Jordan’s (And I quote: ‘It makes my poo look like a Snicker’s Bar’) Nut Crunch, you would think that the Other Half would wash up his bowl before heading upstairs to clean his teeth wouldn’t you?  However, the washing up is usually done by me.  By this time, I am usually running late so in order to quicken my pace, I put The Dude on the floor so he can crawl over to me by the sink, use my tights to pull himself up and scream, scream and scream.  Try it.  A five minute washing up task can be reduced to a 30 second job if you have a screaming child clambering up your tights and pulling out your fuzzy leg hairs.  Not only does your washing up get done but any need for an epilator is gone. It can sometimes however, just create more jobs for you later in the day when the Other Half notices bits of Weetabix or Nut Crunch encrusted into your bowls and just places them back by the sink and reprimands you for not washing up properly in the first place. Argh!

After breakfast, we race upstairs, clean our teeth, find coats and shoes and then switch off every light in the house.  I honestly don’t  know who switches them on.  I grab my bag, the baby bag, my girl’s school bag and sometimes my marking bag and stumble to the car.  The Other Half is long gone by this time as he is ‘on duty’ or ‘has assembly’ so it’s down to me to do the ‘school’ or Grandparents’ run.  As I put the kids in the car, my girl shouts for the ‘hi-pad’ again.

 

Some people lift weights to keep fit. Me? I just carry multiple bags and children to and from the car daily.

 

“It won’t work without Wi-Fi; there is no point in taking it.”

“I want to watch Topsy and Tim!”

“It won’t work!”

“I’ll use the I-Cloud or check the downloads.”

“What?  You’re four!  You shouldn’t know these things.”

Holding out her hand:

“Hi. Pad.”

 

If only mornings were like this. This is usually the evening scenario when I shout ‘Don’t go to sleep!’ over and over again.

Reluctantly, I head back into the house and retrieve the battered I-Pad and switch the central heating off at the same time (see, I needed to go back inside anyway.)

Then we set off.  And if we are heading over to my Mum’s, that is when we will inevitably get stuck in traffic.

*Singing*

“The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling way down in the valley tonight…THE LIGHTS ARE ON GREEN.  GO GO GO!  WHO TAUGHT YOU HOW TO DRIVE? There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in eye and a blade shining oh so bright…OH MY GOD, IT’S A SPEEDBUMP, NOT MOUNT EVEREST!  B*LL*CKS, I’M GONNA BE LATE…”

And that’s when the frantic texting begins.

After throwing the kids out of the car (disclaimer: a metaphor for dropping off my much loved children quickly), I arrive at work at 8.29am and rejoice that I am not late and am fully prepared to face the day.

That is until HR come a knocking.

 

Our bruised, battered, toddler abused Hi-Pad.

 
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How to Turn a Blind Eye to Sleep.

A couple of months ago I admitted to my health visitor that I STILL could not get my boy to sleep in his room or cot; I promised her that as soon as the Christmas Holidays arrived, I would try and persevere with sleep training.

Well, the holidays have arrived.

As I begin to write this post, my son is standing in his cot and screaming. I am doing what was suggested by my health visitor and sitting by his cot silently in the dark.  Well, I say dark.  The current curtains we have in his room are just not cutting it and recently we have been looking into ordering some black out blinds.  In the past, I have been advised that if I want my almost one year old to sleep through the night, then his room must be dark.

Recently, bearing in mind, that the cold dark nights will soon be turning, once again, into lighter nights, I have been doing a little research into ways that I can help make my son’s room more sleep friendly.  We have painted it blue and added some rocket stickers to his wall.  He loves to reach out and touch a star sticker, but if I put him down and attempt a runner from the room, he crawls quickly after me!  There are teddies in his cot, toys in his room and a bunny rug on his carpet, but still he prefers it in bed with Mummy.  This may sound cute, but at 1am, 2am, 3am…when you are being kicked in the forehead with a foot or being woken up because you have a podgy baby finger lodged firmly in your right nostril, cute it isn’t.

Having conducted my research on ‘good sleep aids’ (and when I say research, I mean ‘Google’), I learnt that a baby’s room should be silent and dark.  So I started looking for some black out blinds.  Instantly, I found a fab website called VELUX and immediately looked at their blackout blind range.  Perfect, I thought, these will do.  But then it got better…

I found that VELUX Blinds also make Disney blackout blinds.  They don’t even have to be coloured black for them to work!  Who knew?  I really like the Mickey Mouse with the speech bubble for  my son’s room.  Just so I can write ‘JUST PLEASE GO TO SLEEP!’ in the speech bubble in thick black marker.  My thinking behind this: if Mickey says it – it’s cute!

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I wouldn’t really write in the speech bubble – it would be tempting though…

I have also had a look for my daughter’s room.  At four years old, she is an okay sleeper – not great, but okay.  We have recently bought her a new wardrobe and desk for her bedroom as we want it to become a room where she can sit and play – a room she can make her own.  At the moment, most of her playing is done downstairs in the living room and at the end of each manic day, when all I want to do it go downstairs, drink a cuppa and watch TV, all I seem to do instead is trip up over Barbie and her numerous accessories, pick up jigsaw pieces and put lids on discarded pens.  I think the Disney Princess blind would be a perfect addition to my little lady’s room and who knows, if the room is decorated to suit her and her personality then she might stay upstairs long enough for me to watch one of my own programmes on Sky Plus rather than being made to sit through yet another ‘Peppa Pig’, ‘Paw Patrol’ or ‘Ben and Holly’, (even if Nanny Plum may be the greatest character ever created…)

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Could this Princess be the one to keep my own Princess in her room?

Now that my son is finally asleep (I caved in, picked him up and rocked him), wish me luck with coming weeks.  We may have the interiors sorted, but not the sleep.  Hopefully, with these new ideas for sleeping and with a little bit of grit and determination, my son may sleep through the night some time soon.

 


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A Laser Day in Manchester – nailed it!

I love Manchester.  Being a Yorkshire girl though, I hate Manchester United – not because I am a football fan, but because it’s in our blood.  It’s a rule you must follow – a rule written in small print on the back of the White Rose (plus my Dad was a Leeds fan – so any haters can see and understand the ridiculousness behind my reasoning!) BUT, I love Manchester City Centre.  It was my university town and between the years of my being 18 and 21, it was my home.  I’m not here to write about my university days as I fear the post will turn into one filled with regret as I clearly remember way too many times when I was more concerned about whether my Nike Air Max TNs matched the turns ups on my jeans than rather than analysing Blake’s ‘Mind forged manacles’.  Or I was too busy reading Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ instead of following Dante on his descent into hell.  No, university is long since over and even though I know I would do everything differently (like actually read the books I should have read), I can’t complain about my 2:1 degree.  In fact – I owe a massive thank you to one lovely lady for allowing me to become her revision buddy during my third year.  I honestly think she was the one who turned my 2:2 into a 2:1.

After finishing university, I never saw any of my ‘uni’ friends again, which is such an epic shame as university buddies are meant to be mates for life aren’t they?  I expected to make regular trips across the Pennines for reunions (I even expected that I would settle down in Manchester), alas that was not to be.  However, over the years, Manchester became a regular shopping haunt for me and my mum and before the time stealing sleep bandit kids came along, my mum and I would take a monthly trip over the M62 and shop until we dropped.

That was, of course, before I had a mortgage.

And when I still had a waist.

Anyway, as always, I digress.  It all began one rainy afternoon in Leeds.

“Guess what I’m thinking about getting done?” My Mum said.

“Your boobs?”  Was my reply.  It made her laugh – I like to make her laugh.

“My eyes!”

“That would have been my third guess after botox.”

I had my eyes lasered six years ago, just after we lost my Dad.  Once, while I was at university, I was on a bus going to a lecture and as the bus jolted, my glasses fell off and I was on my hands and knees looking in the aisles. My sight was that bad, I could put my glasses on my bed and the paisley patterns were the perfect camouflage.  Once the glasses were on the duvet, they were gone. I must have told my Dad this at some point and he always said he wished he could fix my eyes.  So he did.  Before he died, he gave me the money to get them lasered and I have seen clearly ever since.

After lots of umming and arrhing, my Mum made the decision to have lens replacement and the closest clinic that offered the treatment was Manchester.  So off we went.

I was thoroughly excited about the trip to Manchester as I don’t venture out from behind my ironing board that often these days, but more importantly, the Other Half had happily agreed (if I do all the bed times for one whole week) to have both children all day.  Not only was I going to my old university city for the first time in about five years, but I was going to be childless.  I could look in shops without the ‘Oh my God, where is she?’ fear that I get every time my girl decides to annoyingly walk directly behind me. I would be able buy a frothy over priced Christmas themed coffee and drink it hot without having to prise my boy’s grubby fingers from my fringe, eyes and nostrils. Oh yes, this was going to be great.  My Mum was, however, sh*tting herself slightly nervous.

Sunday arrived and I pulled up onto her drive.

‘Have you not had your car fixed yet?’ Was her opening greeting. ‘It will go rusty.

It was going to be a long day.

We were approaching the M60 and decided to use the map app on the iPhone.

“Get the post code and put it in my phone,” I suggested.

“No, I have already done it in my phone. It’s set to go.”

The map app man told us to get off the motorway.  Surprised by this sudden demand, I made a swift exit, but did not feel confident in my decision. The fact that all I saw were signs to Bury did not help shake the uneasiness, but the map app man could not be wrong could he?

As it turned out, the map app man was not wrong. He got us to our destination of a three bedrooms semi-detached house in Bury.

“This isn’t it!’ My Mum declared. ‘It’s on Deansgate.”

I am more than familiar with Deansgate so I thanked her for her observational skills.  Maybe she didn’t need her eyes lasering after all.

‘You’ve dropped a pin.’ I said. ‘When you opened the map you have accidentally dropped a pin to this area.’

“A pin? I don’t have a pin.”

I grabbed my phone, input the postcode and twenty minutes later we were running late, but we had made it to a very busy Deansgate.

Once we were in the waiting room, I pulled out my Year 8 assessments and my current book: ‘The Girl on the Train’. I was going to be there waiting for four hours so I was going to be productive and mark and I was going to do what every good English Teacher should do – I was going to read.

Mum was shown upstairs and I started marking my first assessment.

‘The writer uses a powerful adjective to show humour in the extract…’

No he didn’t, he used a verb…

I stopped reading and asked the receptionist if she would mind looking after my folder – she put it in the contact lens cupboard. I was going shopping.

It always rains in Manchester and Sunday was no different.  Umbrellaless, coatless and without a hood, I ploughed onwards and faced the adverse weather.

By the time I arrived at The Arndale Centre, I resembled a drowned rat. I headed inside, was swept away be a sea of manic shoppers and found myself washed up outside a nail salon.

“Do I need an appointment?”

A perfectly groomed, courageously coiffed young Asian man looked me up and down.

“No lovey. What do you want doing?”

I wiggled my stumpy nails at him that had the remnants of three week old purple gel on them.

“Shellac. Take a seat.”

I picked a lovely glittery red and off we went. I never get my nails done so couldn’t hide my surprise when he pulled out device that was not disimilar to the device that dentists use to buffer your teeth. In an instant, the top layer of my nails had been buzzed off and he began. I mourned the loss of my once strong nails but, hey, at least they would look pretty. And glittery!

 

The perfectly groomed young man placed the UV light in front of me and directed me to place my hand inside.  After forty-five seconds, it became hotter than the sun and my fingers began to burn.

“It’s burning,” I said.

“Yes, it does that.”

Only then did I notice that there was not a single hair on his forearms. Perfectly groomed indeed. Either that, or he had shoved his arms into the UV light once too often and singed his hairs right off. I began to ponder whether it would work as a hair remover on my fuzzy legs but then I smelt burning flesh and realised my little finger was melting into the metal; I needed to leave.

It was time for a coffee.

For once, I bypassed Greggs and decided that I was going to go independent all the way.  I found an independent delicatessen, went in, saw the prices, pretended to read the specials board and side stepped back out into the rain again.  Popular high street brand it was then.  I found a Starbucks, went in, queued at the wrong end, ordered a festive toffee nut latte, looked and pondered over the overly priced sandwiches, side stepped out of the door once again and wondered into the adjacent Tesco Express.

Being the good daughter that I am and knowing that my mum has a tendency to faint whenever she is scared, nervous or has sun stroke, I decided to buy her a sandwich.  Thinking that I was only nipping in to buy one item, I didn’t get a basket and held tightly onto my latte.  Balancing the latte in one hand, I then proceeded to buy a sandwich and sushi and was beginning to run out of suitable gripping digits.  While attempting to pick up a bottle of Evian with the only finger I had spare (my little melted one seeing as you asked), I dropped it on the floor as a hot young couple walked into the store.  The bottle landed at the girl’s feet.  She kicked it down the aisle, looked at me blankly, looked back at the bottle and walked off.  Her boyfriend did notice that I wasn’t the owner of a third hand that could retrieve the bottle and offered to help.  However, after a glance at his girlfriend and on the receiving end of a death stare, he too walked off.  Just to add insult to injury and to add to my own torture, I spotted some McCoy Salt and Vinegar crisps and tried to grab a packet from the shelf.  Alas, it was not meant to be because like the water, the packet ended up on the floor.  I sighed loudly.

 

“Oh no, I have done the same with the crisps now!”

Unfortunately, the boy had learnt from his mistake and failed to turn around.  I followed them to the till leaving a trail of food on the floor behind me.  After paying for the sandwich and sushi, I left.  Back in the drizzle outside, I realised I had left my latte in the bagging area at Tesco.  Returning to the shop and following the trail of food that some genius had left for lost shoppers to follow, I retrieved the coffee purely because I had gone all out and bought a venti.

It was 2pm when I returned to the eye clinic.  I collected my marking from the contact lens cupboard and started to mark.  Surely Mum would be almost done by now.

Two hours later, Pirate Pam emerged from her operation sporting an eye patch and a Penguin biscuit.

“I bought you a sandwich in case you felt faint,” I said with the halo lit above my head.

“I’ve had a penguin.”

She then pulled out a pair of Rayban sunglasses she had bought just to cover the eye patch and we got ready to leave.

The journey home wasn’t quite as eventful as the journey there, it was however, more perilous.  With the driving rain beating down on the car, the fog slowly descending and at least 1000 cars trying to get on the M62, I struggled to read the road signs.

“I think you need to be in this lane,” my Mum kept saying.

“Which one?  Which one?”  I asked swerving in and out of lanes.

“I don’t know,”, she said.  “I can’t see.”

Any that, ladies and gentlemen, is irony.

We return next Sunday for the other eye doing!

 

Christmas nails still looking good despite having to restrain the Dude.  Plus, I needed a picture of a cute kid to make this post interesting!