The Teaching Mum

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


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Life in a Goldfish Bowl

It all started with a woodlouse named Rosie.

Well, actually, if I am being honest, it all started with me trying to throw away a ‘bug catching’ net.

“You never use it,” I said.

“I do,” the Girl replied.

“It’s been lying forgotten on the conservatory floor for weeks,” I argued, while at the same time cursing my lack of cleaning in The House of the Spiders conservatory.

With that, she dashed outside to the green house and stood on precariously on the outskirts daring herself to venture inside.  Ha!  I thought.  She won’t go in there alone and she knows the green house is not my territory. Many a clothes peg has been left abandoned near the dilapidated glass house due to my seeing an arachnid and fleeing.

Grinning at her from the window, she glanced over at me and raised her bug catching net.  In a flash, she ran, flew by me and delivered a low blow.

“Daddy!” she yelled at the bottom of the stairs.

“Yes, my princess,” came the dulcet tones of The Other Half.

“Will you come catch some bugs with me?”

“Of course, my princess.”

Bugger.  She won.

Tonight, there would be one more bug under my roof.

I watched them for a while as they hunted for bugs.  If I am being honest, it was lovely to watch Daddy, the Dude and my Girl in the garden playing because the weather in Yorkshire has been pretty dismal.  Our time in the garden has been lacking of late and due to the rain, the humidity and the fact that we live next to fields, the weeds have taken control and are holding our lawn to ransom.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that a new tropical rain forest has started to sprout and we may be held responsible for the conservation of some major wildlife species in the local area.

“Mum!  Mum!  I’ve got a new pet!”

My stomach churned.

Don’t be a spider.  Don’t be a spider.  Don’t be a spider.

“I’ve got a woodlouse.”

My girl held up a clear plastic container complete with breathing holes.

Ladied and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Rosie.

“It’s my new pet.  I am going to call her Rosie.”

Yeah, my heart melted a little bit.

“Daddy is going to get her some dead leaves to eat.”

So Rosie was welcomed into the family.  She sat with us at dinner.  She chowed down on a dock leaf while we dined on pasta.  She sat next to me during bath time, watched as we wrestled the kids into their pajamas and perched on the head board as ‘The Twitching Hour’ (bedtime) began.

Finally, as the children fell asleep, the room darkened and I put each child in their respective beds. The woodlouse remain above mine.  Forgotten.

It wasn’t until I was dozing at 11pm when I snapped awake remembering that Rosie was lurking nearby.

Luckily, I had The Other Half to protect me.

Oh, the fun we have in our house…

The following morning arrived and there was a worry that Rosie wasn’t moving.  We reassured our Girl that she was sleeping and encouraged her to go to school.

All was well.

After school however, the truth had to come out.  I found Rosie on her back with her little legs stiffly sticking up and told The Other Half to break the news.

“I am afraid Rosie has died,” he said in is softest voice.

She burst into tears and fell upon the bed.  Once again, my heart melted.

I recalled my first experience of death; it was when our family Jack Russell, Ben, died when I was eight.  I read somewhere that the true understanding of death for a child is usually when a family pet passes.  Despite this being a sad experience for any child, it can be used to teach a youngster about death and how to deal with it.  I just couldn’t have my daughter’s first experience of death being an upturned woodlouse on a dead leaf so I made a promise:

“We’ll get you a gold fish,” I said.

With that, Rosie was tossed onto the bed.

“I’m getting a goldfish!” the Girl yelled before scurrying out of the room.

I would have followed, but I was busy retrieving a dead woodlouse from my pillow.

The weekend arrived.  And what followed was a series of threats.

“If you don’t eat your toast, you won’t get a goldfish,”

“If you don’t have morning wee, you won’t get a goldfish,”

“If you don’t get dressed for ballet, you won’t get a goldfish,”

After five minutes of chasing my naked daughter around a room lassoing a ballet skirt around my head, she was finally dressed for ballet.”

“Can I get a goldfish now?” she asked.

My response should have been: “Well, actually no you can’t because after kicking off about not having your own plate of toast, you refused to eat it, you then cried until you got a ‘breakfast’ Jelly Baby.  Then there was the refusal to go to the toilet and the refusal to get dressed, which resulted in me pulling you out of the bathroom (where Daddy was) by your legs and you kicking me while I was trying to get you to step into your leotard.”

What I actually said was: “Yes, you can have a goldfish after ballet.”

“Oh, I hate ballet.”

She actually loved ballet and was beaming when I picked her up. We were going to get a fish.

When arriving at ‘Pets at Home’, we steered her around all fluffy animals and all the critters that cost more than £2.50 each. We came to a stop at the goldfish bowls, picked the smallest, picked our plants and went to find an assistant.

“You can buy everything now except the goldfish,” a lady advised. “The tank has to be active for three days.”

Placidly, The Other Half replied ‘OK’, and paid for the goods.

Once outside I said: “You have no intention of waiting three days do you?”

“Nope,” came the reply.

One McDonalds later and we were home setting up the tank. Now, to give The Other Half his dues, he does his research before purchasing anything and the tank was cleaned, prepped and set up.

A few hours passed and we were on our way to our local garden centre. Two fish were picked (a bargain at £2 each) and we were on our way home again.

An hour later and the fish had a new home.

“Mine is called Petal and my brother’s is called Sam,” the Girl declared.

After three, look at the camera and say ‘fish’.

With the fish perched high upon the sideboard, the Dude didn’t appear to care that his sister had named his fish for him. He was more concerned with licking the spilt Fruitshoot from the rug.
I forced the two to come together for the obligatory ‘look what we’ve done this weekend’ picture for Facebook and I could see the excitement begin to drain from my Girl’s eyes.

“I want a dog, Mummy,”

I glanced over at the fish and was thankful for their seven second memory span. The poor things.

I glanced at the Dude who was happily filling up a pink toy pram with faux coal from the defunct fireplace and I was thankful that the only thing he knew about fish was how to eat a battered one.

I glanced at the pile of ironing I was about to embark upon and then back at my lovely, sweet, gorgeous and ungrateful little girl.

Shaking my head, tears began to fall.  They were not mine.

“Mummy, I want a dog. Will you get me one tomorrow?”

Daddy taking no nonsense and me realising she probably needs a belt.

I thought then of Rosie, poor, sweet dead Rosie. She would be turning over in her grave at the thought of her owner’s fickleness. Well, at least she would be if she hasn’t died on her back with her legs up in the air.

RIP Rosie.

I guess I will be the one feeding the fish and cleaning them out.

Could always give them to the Dude to eat.

“What do you mean ‘it’s called Sam’?”

Can you believe you’ve read at least 500 words about a dead wood louse?!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear


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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?