The Teaching Mum

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


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Putting the Swing Back into Golf! 

“We’re going on an adventure!”

“We’re just going on a train.”

Teaching Mum: Destroyer of Dreams.

“What?  Like Harry Potter?”

“Yes, like Harry Potter.  I imagine the train into Leeds will be exactly like the Hogwarts Express.”

Teaching Mum: Re-animator of Dreams.

Therefore, as we stepped onto the train, my girl was bursting with excitement. Unfortunately, when she saw no Harry, Ron, Hermione or chocolate frogs bouncing on the seats, her enthusiasm faded somewhat.

“Can I play games on your phone?” My girl asked the minute we began to move.

“No,”

“I want to play games.  Can I play games on your phone?  Give me your phone!”

“I bet Harry Potter doesn’t play games on his phone whilst he is on the train to Hogwarts.  Look out of the window and enjoy the view.”

Where’s Harry and Ron?

No sooner had I said that and I saw some expletive language scrawled across the wall we were whizzing by and quickly handed her my phone in order to divert her eyes.  I bet Harry Potter didn’t see the word ‘cockwomble’ emblazoned across a wall on his way to Hogwarts.

Eleven minutes later and my girl, Grandma P and myself arrived in Leeds Train Station. Eleven minutes!  I was very impressed.  I don’t often get the train, so I made a mental note to mention this to the Other Half when I got home.  Perhaps, on a rare child-free evening, we could catch the train into the cosmopolitan and vibrant city that is Leeds and treat ourselves to a few cocktails and some delicious food.  Then I remembered that the Other Half doesn’t like cocktails, fine dining or socialising so I quickly scrapped the idea.  It’s that damned ‘Othertownsilitus’ that he suffers from; he gets nervous and jittery when he leaves our precious little village.  Well, that’s the reason he tells me when I complain that we haven’t been on a date in six years.

Anyway, ‘why were you in Leeds?’ I hear you cry.  Well, the reason being was that my daughter and I had been invited to our very first blogging event.  My little blog sits steadily under the radar when it comes to making a living from it (I don’t), being recognised for awards and being invited to review products and events, which is fine because they were not my reason for starting to write.  So when I received an email inviting my daughter and I to a golf event at the Hilton Hotel in Leeds with Online Golf, an on line golf retailer, I was a little chuffed.

The Dude was staying at home with Daddy because the thought of him wielding a gold club around in a confined space was a little too much to handle.  So, who else was going to come with me?  Yep, that’s right.  Grandma.

Upon reaching her house, I was greeted with the now familiar sight of her surrounded by a load of contact lenses and looking confused.  Way back in December, she had her eyes lasered and has had nothing but trouble since.

“They have sent me more; I think these are wrong too.  Can we just call at the opticians first?

Therefore, once we arrived in Leeds, our first destination was not the Hilton, it was an opticians.  To cut a boring story short, the heavens opened while we were inside being taught our left eye from our right eye and were caught in a downpour on route to the hotel.

Not looking too dissimilar from a drowned rat when we arrived, we were greeted, welcomed and offered a drink before the activities started for the day.  Before long, we were ushered into another room that was filled with lots of different golfing activities.  We were introduced to the team running the event and the children all split up to trial different activities.  In my opinion, my girl chose the most difficulty activity first.

“I think that will be too hard for you.  You need to chip it up.”  As you can tell by my language, my golfing knowledge is second to none…

My Mum scolded me and told me to let her have a go because she would never learn otherwise.

Yes, Mum.  Sorry, Mum.

A very friendly instructor spoke to all of the children and explained, in detail, how to hold a golf club and what they needed to do in order to score top points in the game.  Once the explanations were finished, it was time to have a go.  All of the children waited patiently for their turn and put their hands up when they wanted a go.  Some of the older children had a go first and they proved that the activity was indeed quite difficult.  I found it hard to imagine my four year old being able to do it any better.

She didn’t prove me wrong.

Walking precariously up to the instructor and the tee, he explained patiently once again how to hold a club.  My girl just stood with her hands out clearly not knowing her left from her right.  Maybe I ought to teach her that essential piece of knowledge at some point… Nevertheless, she was eventually holding the club and was ready to swing.

Being taught for the first time how to hold a club.

She swung.

She missed.

She swung again.

She missed.

She swung a third time.

She hit the ball; it rolled off sideways into the net.  She was pleased though and ran over and high-fived me.

I bet Rory McIlroy is shaking in his golf shoes.

I think she hit the next ball although I can’t be sure.

As all this was going on, another blogger came over and introduced herself.

“I like your fringe,” she said.

Reaching for my now curly and frizzy bangs, I told her that it was in desperate need for a trim.  Bearing in mind that I now resembled the blonde version of Monica ‘it’s the humidity’ Gellar, I wasn’t 100% sure that she was being serious with me.

6359637531056564441267777302_humidity20hair

The beautiful Yorkshire summer ruined my hair.

The lady assured me that my fringe looked cool and I was happy to have met a fellow Yorkshire blogger who appreciated the dishevelled look I was sporting.

By this time, the children had rotated and changed activities and next up was the opportunity to knock some foam pins down with a golf ball and putter.  I thought my girl was much better suited to this activity as it looked much simpler than the last.

I was right.

Well, I was right about it being a bit easier.  I was wrong about my girl being better at it.

Eyes on the ball, not me!

In the few minutes that she had left one activity, she had forgotten how to hold the club. Once again, another very patient and friendly instructor told her what to do.

She swung.

She missed.

You know how this goes.  No pins went down, but Mummy did catch one as it veered off through the air.

The instructor asked how many pins she knocked down.

“Three!” she announced proudly.

The cheat! (She actually thought he was asking her how many goes she had.  Well, that’s the story she is going with.)

Next up was Crazy Golf.  Yes!  She had played this before.  She would know what to do.

Guess what?

She had forgotten how to hold the putter again.  For the third time she finally grasped the putter correctly and started to play and…she wasn’t terrible.  There were no holes in one, but there were one or two ‘holes in two’.  (Is that even a golfing term?)

How do you hold it again?

Once the activities had finished, we were treated to lunch and given a little gift bag.

Donned in her new golfing cap, we made our way back to the train station.

“Is the adventure almost over?” my girl asked.

“Yes, the train will be here soon.  Have you enjoyed yourself?”

She nodded and soon enough we were on the train and moving again.  Then the familiar questions started once more.

“Can I have your phone?  Can I play games on your phone?”

Reluctantly, I handed her the phone.

“Mummy?  Have you got any golf games on your phone?”

Thanks for having us!

This post was written in collaboration with Online Golf.

 

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Back to School with Wynsors World of Shoes

The summer holidays, this year, have been fantastic simply because I have been able to spend precious time with my family.  My children have played together brilliantly and we have enjoyed our first family holiday in three years.

And the holidays aren’t over yet.

I know that come the 4th of September, I will be clinging on to the last few hours of summer 2016 with all my might because I just don’t want it to end.  This is for two reasons: the first being that I just want to spend as much time with my family before I return to work in September because once the new term starts, I won’t stop to rest until Christmas.  The second reason is because I will have to come to terms with the fact that my little girl – my first born – will be starting full time school on the 5th of September.  I know she is ready for it; she asks about school almost every day and she is becoming more and more independent by the second.  The question is though: I am ready for it?

Emotionally, I am not ready for it – she’s my baby!

Literally, I am not ready for it because, well, those of you who know me know that I am very disorganised and rather forgetful at times.

As I have been so busy enjoying the summer holidays (see, I am blaming something else for my inadequacies) purchasing back to school essentials for my daughter has fallen by the wayside.  I seriously need to get my act together especially as there is only just over two weeks to go.

That’s when the email landed in my inbox.  The email that might have just saved my bacon and saved me from the sudden rush of panic buys that would no doubt take place in the early days of September.  My daughter and I were invited to Wynsors World of Shoes where we could look at and sample their fantastic Back to School range.

As soon as we walked through the doors, we were greeted by the most friendly staff who immediately complemented my girl on her fancy looking dress.

“We’re going out for dinner,” I explained.  “We wouldn’t ordinarily be this dressed up when looking for school shoes.”

Once our formal attire was made clear, we were shown the Back to School range and what surprised me the most was how extensive it was and it included a number of big brand names such as Kickers and Adidas.

Wynsors Back to School 4

Back to School range – photo courtesy from Wynsors World of Shoes

After looking at the shoes, my daughter was asked to sit down in order to have her feet measured. Wynsors World of Shoes offer a personalised measuring service so once we knew what size shoe we needed, we were asked to pick some shoes we liked.  I decided to take a step back and allow my own ‘Little Miss Independent’ to pick her own.  Spoilt for choice, she chose three pairs including a pair from their Disney Frozen range.  As my daughter tried on her shoes, the lady who was serving us thoroughly checked the fit of each shoe.  Despite all of the shoes being the same size, the fits were very different and in the end, the pair that fit perfectly were a cute patent pair with a love heart pattern.

Wynsors Back to School 2

Personalised measuring service.

Once the shoes were decided upon, we were ushered towards the back of the store where we were greeted with more back to school essentials.  My girl chose a Finding Dory back pack, a Frozen lunch box (Mummy wanted the Finding Dory lunchbox so that everything would match…) and a range of Frozen stationary.  Fantastic!

All the essentials under one roof!

I cannot praise the staff enough to be honest as they made my daughter feel like the most important girl in the world.  Starting school can be a very apprehensive time for both parents and children, so to have the staff at Wynsors World of Shoes in Castleford take a genuine interest in us and offer us a personalised service was wonderful.

This girl looks ready for school, although I am not sure the dress will be allowed.

This is a collaborative piece of writing whereby we were kindly invited to trial Wynsors World of Shoes Back to School range. 


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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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Teaching Mum Learns the Hard Way on Holiday!

I need a holiday.

We have just returned from a wonderful family holiday at the Iberostar Fuerteventura Palace Hotel and I would highly recommend both the hotel and the resort.  But, this post is not a review – oh no, you know me better than that.  This post is about to explain to you why I started by telling you that I needed a holiday.

It all began with a simple comment from the Other Half on day one.  He had just emerged from the freezing pool where our girl had been holding him captive for three hours.  Withered like a prune with goosebumps covering his body, I beheld a broken man:

“Shall I see if I can get us an earlier flight home?  I can’t do this for another ten days.”

I opened my arms to him and gestured for him to come over.

“Don’t worry,” I said handing him a beer. “We’re on holiday.”

Our hands gently brushed as I passed him the drink; our eyes met and his lit up.

“Tag.  You’re it!”

Bugger.

I looked longingly over at my Kindle on the sunbed knowing that it would be at least four hours until I found out if Sansa was going to get pushed through the Moon Door by her Aunt Lysa.  (I’ve seen the series, so I know the answer, but the need was still great.)

Therefore, on the first day I learnt that in order to survive we needed to work as a team.  And so we did.  Never before have the Other Half and I been so in sync.

“We haven’t argued yet,” I noted as we were strolling down to dinner on the third evening.

“There’s no time,” he said, deflecting a low blow to the stomach from the girl for refusing to put her on his shoulders.

Unwittingly then, we became a tag team and spent the majority of the holiday at opposite sides of the complex.  This worked quite well in the early stages because the girl just wanted to play in the pool and the Dude wanted to go for walks and climb on anything that would put him in perilous danger.  Now, I hate being cold (and the pool was like ice), so more often that not, I spent the majority of my time peeling the Dude from walls, chairs, sun loungers, swings, slides, tables, the Fanta machine… where as the Other Half spent the majority of his time in the pool freezing while being continuously head-butted by a ‘shark’ donned in armbands, goggles and a cute tankini from Next.

Shark Attack!

However, in order to be a successful parenting tag team, there are rules you must abide by and it is important that you don’t become too cocky.  It is imperative that you choose a child* to tackle play with and there should be no crossovers and no blurring of the lines.  Because, once those lines start to blur, there is no going back.  Once you say ‘yes’ to your Other Half going to the Spar (of the shop kind) that is only ‘five minutes down the road’ then he will start to take liberties and by liberties, I mean that he will turn up two hours later with a half eaten bag of crisps and pictures of wild chipmunks on his iPhone.  Whilst this leisurely stroll and ‘once in a lifetime’ photo opportunity was taking place, you have been wrestling two kids in the pool (both of whom cannot swim unaided) while at the same time trying and failing to keep up a bikini you bought from Amazon that is too big on the boobs because you stupidly breast fed for fourteen months.  So, if you happened to be in the pool at the Fuerteventura Palace that day and you saw two small deflated lilos – it was probably me losing the battle with my bikini.

Excuse me. Can you tell me the furthest way to The Spar?

On a serious note, it is important to ensure that both you and your children stay protected from the sun at all times.  My children didn’t burn – thank goodness because the pain is terrible.  How do I know this?  I burnt.  Bad.  Usually, I am very cautious at applying cream.  However, a cool and very deceiving wind blew around the sunbeds and pool and because we were still learning how to become an awesome parenting tag team on the first day, my back went unprotected.  It had reached mid-afternoon before I asked my four year old to liberally apply cream to my back.  Reluctantly, she rubbed cream all over it for at least five seconds before giving it a quick slap, saying “all done” and running off back to the pool.

It wasn’t until we returned to the room when I looked in the mirror and realised that my back now resembled the scorched earth of Hell.

Always use suncream!

“It doesn’t hurt,” I said touching it.

By 7pm that evening, I was in agony and it continued for at least three more days.  The burn resulted in me wearing a t-shirt for the following three days which I suppose was a positive as it meant I didn’t accidently flash anyone in the pool.

I also learnt that applying sun-cream regularly helps with the preservation of your tan.  Days before the end of the holiday, my back began to peel.  And without going into too much detail the Other Half compared me to The Singing Detective infected with Greyscale.  My daughter though, she loved it.  Yes, she loved sitting on my back and slowly peeling the skin from it.  I was both disgusted in her for doing it and in myself for allowing her to do this in public, but the pull of my Kindle was just too strong now that I had finally started ‘A Feast for Crows’ and Tywin Lannister was dead.

Is it time for a nap?

Being only eighteen months old, the Dude still has a nap in the afternoon.  On holiday, I learnt that it was better for me  for him to have two naps a day.  After a few days, I had managed to time these to perfection.  He had a nap at 11am and 4pm, but they came at a price.  That price was my tan.  As you all know, sleep does not come easily to my son, so before each nap, I had to walk him in his pushchair around and around and around the complex.  Walking in and out of darkened corridors with a towel hanging over the pushchair in order to block out the light, I became known as ‘The Scaly Lady’: forever destined to haunt the halls of the Fuerteventura Palace moaning over why her son won’t go to sleep on his own.

The Scaly Lady. (On a serious note, the towel never completely covered my son and was completely removed after this photo.)

However, the upside to the long walks meant an hour and a half sunbathing session once he was asleep, no weight gain in an all inclusive hotel and I hatched at least four Pokémon eggs.

Yeah, it’s time for a nap!

The last time we were on holiday, the Dude was merely a sparkle in my eye and our girl was almost two years old, which meant that she was too young for the kids’ club.  This year though, she was not only old enough to go, but she was old enough to be left there on her own while Daddy and I were free to relax and drink free alcohol look  after our blue-eyed-boy.

“Kids’ Club, Kids’ Club!” I would chant each morning.

“Nope!” she replied every day.  “Pool.”

Therefore, one of the final things I learnt at the ‘Hotel of Hard Knocks’ was that if you want a few moments to yourself, then you must get your children to make friends with other children.  This proved to be very difficult.  Not because my girl is unsociable.  She is actually brilliant at making friends and I am incredibly proud of her.  However, we learnt that if the majority of children in the hotel do not speak the same language as you, then it can be quite difficult to make friends.

A lot of the families in the hotel were German and British families were in the minority.  We found ourselves speaking REALLY LOUDLY in front of any family we heard speaking English.

“MY DAUGHTER, WHO IS FOUR AND REALLY FRIENDLY, ABSOLUTELY LOVES PLAYING IN THE POOL!”

“ARE WE GOING TO THE MINI-DISCO TONIGHT AT 8.30PM IN THE CONCERT ROOM?”

Bless her though, she did manage to make a few friends, but wouldn’t bloody go to the kids’ club with them, preferring to play in the pool alone or with Daddy.

Finally, we learnt that next time we go on holiday, it might be worth learning German.  Being a family of blondes (mine’s from a bottle) we were often mistaken for German or Swedish holiday makers.

“Sprichst du Deutsch?” we were asked a number of times.

“Noooooooo,” we replied in our broad Yorkshire accent.

They would smile politely, inwardly disgusted in our lack of bilingual skills.

We would hang our heads in shame at our lack of bilingual skills.

It only lasted for a second though because one kid was off dashing into the pool and the other was off to climb on a table somewhere.

And my poor Kindle would be left discarded once again on a sunbed, alone.

My tag team partner. He doesn’t speak German.

*Having being blessed with two children, I am only certified to give advice to those with up to two children.  If you are tackling more than two children on holiday, then you are in my prayers…!

 

 

 

 

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