How many times on school run today did I hear ‘Mummy, Mummy, watch this’ and have to stop, turn around and watch whilst Bubba performed a really pointless slide. No, actually it wasn’t a slide, it was a limber up, then a run, then a hop, a skip and then a stand still followed by a foot shuffle. All the while accompanied by whooping. And then I had to make impressed, ‘oooh that was really good’ noises. It wasn’t!

And of course because Big Brother was engaging in such Winter Olympic worthy activities, the  t’other one wanted to aswell but as he was attached to me by his reigns (otherwise as soon as we’re out the door he’d be halfway to Inverness) I spent half the walk chasing and sliding (for real) after him!

And it wasn’t even snow!

We’d had a light dusting this morning but as soon as the curtains were opened they wanted to be building a snowman. By the time we left for school the white stuff had been replaced by brown slush and patches of ice which Bubba insisted on proving me wrong with by rolling a snowball (made of ice) the whole way.

Now, I don’t set out to be the Snow Grinch. I don’t want to stomp all over their excitement but I have my limits and being made to stand in the cold watching Bubba repeat the same move eleventy-billion times whilst Squeak shouts ‘SEVERN’ at him is pushing me slightly.

He wasn’t scoring his brothers ability with this, I don’t think he’d have rated that high at all! No, at the moment, everything is ‘SEVERN’, usually delivered in a very ‘Len Goodman’ of Strictly fashion! 

The other day when someone passed us with two dogs and I said, ‘How many dogs Squeak?’  He replied ‘One’. ‘No try again’.  ‘SEVERN! Nine? I stoke it?’

I can’t decide whether he doesn’t know his numbers or if he’s pretending not to for the cheekiness.  

From being two years old Bubba could count to ten a flash. It took me about two years to get Squeak to follow ‘One’ with ‘two’. At the time I screamed so much with joy and a sense of accomplishment that I think I startled him and he’s not really done it much since. Now we seem to have forgotten it all together.  

This morning he told me again that he wanted to be a Postman so I pointed out we needed to ‘get our numbers first’ at which he replied ‘One, SEVERN, Nine’.

‘Happy Christmas Yer Filthy Animals’

It’s the same time every year isn’t it? It’s not like Easter, where I never know where I am and for the entire month of March keep asking, ‘The Wife’ ‘when’s the Easter bunny coming?’  No, Christmas is very, considerately always on the same day but every year, without fail, I feel it suddenly hits me like a runaway Polar Express and I’ve run out of time.

No longer do I have another week to organise myself. Times run out and the boys are off school and demanding entertainment and feeding every thirty minutes so anything that’s not been done, chances are won’t get done until the New Year.

This year I’ve been particularly rubbish and despite Squeak every day for the last three weeks demanding to know ‘where’s my pweashant?’ and shouting ‘Merry Hissmass!’ at me eleventy billion times, I’m not feeling festive at all. Even wearing my flashing light up Chewbacca Christmas Jumper the other day didn’t bring on the festive cheer, I just felt like a bit of a twit this year.

I’m blaming Covid, obviously.

Usually at Christmas I’d have watched several panto’s by now. Can’t do that.

I’d have endured an aching back and painful knee’s as I lowered myself onto those uncomfortable and to my mind never very sturdy tiny primary school chairs as I watched the boys in their respective festive offerings.

I really miss Bubba’s special input to his Christmas show. Like the year he did an impromptu dance and as soon as one parent laughed he played up to the crowd until he got his own round of applause. Or the year he sang with such passion and gusto and winked several times to his teacher and selected ladies of the audience! Or the time he was the ‘nativity cat’ and mid performance realised his tail was detachable and did the only thing you could do – a vigorous background twerk as Joseph tried to find a bed for poor Mary!

Usually I’d be mucking in at the boys school from the start of December, helping with Christmas disco’s, marvelling at the confidence of the girls as they strutted round the darkened hall arm in arm with each other looking very grown up, confident that they have the world at their feet whilst their male counterparts figured out how many hotdogs they could manage before they were sick sliding across the floor on their knees!

I’d have broken up a couple of fights, comforted a handful of overwhelmed children who found the whole chaos in the dark, flashing lights and loud music all too much and obviously chased the same boys out of the toilets twelve hundred times for turning the taps on! What is it about us that at any age we have to congregate in toilets?  

I’d have finished the night covered in a sticky residue I didn’t want to think too much about with ringing in my ears after being subjected to an hour of DJ music and whistle blowing – what is it with the whistles!

My feet would ache but I would have loved every second of it. That festive end of term camaraderie with the teachers, the relief in knowing we’d got them through another year and the joy watching their excitement at being little versions of their future adult selves as they take their disco very seriously.

I’d have been joining in with crafting sessions and getting covered in PVA glue and glitter – have you noticed if there’s glitter in the room, even if you’ve not physically touched it, you’ll still find it on yourself for days after? One year I had to break up a fight – two girls and one Pritt stick (other glue sticks are available, but not that day!)

But we’ve had none of that have we? No sitting in a cold church in the hope of seeing them remember their one line or actually staying on stage long enough to deliver it!

I completely get the caution we have to have, keeping us all safe but I think, like many others, I really feel the restrictions at Christmas.

So this year, Monday I was determined to bring Christmas to the house. We were going to be festive, the boys would have an amazing time, we would not lose the Magic of Christmas! I had a selection of Christmas films we WERE going to get through, I had a tub of Christmas chocolates for that obligatory sugar high, and I had craft options (yes, I’m desperate!).

I also realised I still had presents to buy then to post. I had work to wind down, a deadline to meet, emails to send, the house to clean, some letters to write and the organising of Ganmah coming to stay and lateral flow tests to pick up! Along with this I had the boys to entertain and provide constant food for and make sure they didn’t injure each other before the big day. There was food still to buy, a food order to collect AND I’ve never cooked a turkey before.

To be honest, maybe I’m over thinking the turkey but I’ve never cooked a proper whole one before, a crown yes but this year I’ve ordered a beast complete with legs and, worst of all – giblets! I didn’t know that was still a thing.

Well obviously I know turkeys have giblet things with them but it must be fort… a fair few years since I’ve seen my Mam stick her hand inside a chicken and produce that little bag of horrors. It always freaked me out. I never liked it but at the same time it fascinated me. I even think I spent a couple of years thinking all animals had a plastic bag of squishy organs inside them!

I think I have the same fear of it that some people have of clowns or buttons or actually just having to touch a see-through bag with animals internal organs jostling about inside. It doesn’t feel right.

Friends have said ‘make a gravy out of them’.  

Well, I can tell you now, that will not be happening! I won’t be sticking my hand anywhere near that bird until ‘The Wife’s removed of and discarded any bags of squishiness.  

Right now I don’t know whether I feel festive, hungry or repulsed! But all my talk of turkey has made me feel a bit festive. Or maybe actually it’s been thinking about the memories of past Christmases and looking to what future ones could hold that’s done it for me.

I know that some of us can’t be with those we love again this year but wherever you are, whoever you’re with, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Danger Sports

I started writing this blog initially because I knew people didn’t believed what happened during my days. Whether it was one of my sons filling his nappy during a production meeting, me having to sing and dance my way through a school run or getting myself and a buggy trapped halfway out of a trains doors as the whistle blew I often thought ‘It only happens to us’. To me!

I’d tell people and think  ‘they think I’m making this stuff up and I’m not.’ 

Several years later and nothing’s changed. Every day still brings ‘something’ but to be honest it’s these daft ‘somethings’ that help me cope with the more serious, grown-up stuff that comes our way.

So this weekend, Bubba wanted to go bowling. Now, the last time we bowled as a family, Bubba had got bored waiting his turn and then had a meltdown when he didn’t win, loss issues and all that.  Back then Squeak could still be confined in a buggy so he was easy but as those days are sadly long gone I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it all..

He’s not great at waiting to take turns, amusing himself, sitting still, doing nothing, not touching EVERYTHING or following instructions.

Then I had to consider, would the loud noise and bright artificial lighting affect Bubba? Would he be ok potentially losing games or would his loss issues kick in again?

Add to their challenges the fact that we’ve just started wearing masks again and we’re supposed to minimise touching things. The thought that I’d have to put my fingers into dirty bowling ball holes, little caverns for potential germs and whatever grubbiness other people’s fingers have left in there wasn’t a pleasant one.  And I’m glad we don’t have to wear those awful bowling shoes anymore – never looked pretty or clean did they!

Anyway, I paid the eleventy billion pounds for two games and off we went. 

From our lane Squeak could see the tantalising flashing lights of the obligatory amusement arcade and immediately started jumping up and down screaming with excitement.  Me, ‘The Wife’  had our goes whilst taking it in turns to wrangle him which is a bit like trying to restrain an overexcited Octopus high on caffeine.

Bubba was up next and then helpfully, and very surprisingly  considering he NEVER does anything for his brother, put the ramp in place for him.  ‘The Wife’ set the ball up, Squeak pushed it down said ramp to lots of squealing and delight and then……… RAN DOWN THE LANE AFTER IT!!

You know that moment when time stops for a second and you think ‘SxxT!’

In my mind he was on course for reaching the pins, being scooped up by the machinery and disappearing into the inner workings of the bowling alley. No, I wasn’t being over dramatic, it’s not farfetched, I saw it on a TV drama and the guy got impaled on the sorting mechanism. It was all a bit messy, looked like it hurt a bit and I didn’t really want my youngest son squishing even if he can be a royal pain in the backside at times.

I shouted ‘STOP!’ several times but he just looked over his shoulder and laughed at me.

Everyone on all the other lanes stood still.

No staff were to be seen.

There was only one thing to do wasn’t there? The little sod wasn’t taking any notice and wasn’t stopping for no one, he wanted ‘HIS’ ball back! I’d have to fetch him.

So I jumped on the adjacent lane, doing a ‘brisk walk’, all the while keeping my eyes on my little cherub who was still ahead of me, laughing and running, laughing and running.

‘The Wife’ shouts… at ME! ‘You’re not supposed to go on there’.  Oh so I’m the one getting into trouble am I?

I looked back, ready with a sarcastic reply to see EVERYONE in the bowling alley, except any staff who were obviously absent, stood frozen staring at me with open mouths.

And that was the moment I realised why you’re not supposed to walk on the lanes  -because they’re really chuffing slippy aren’t they?

That was the moment my foot went from under me and I almost went flat on my back.  I say almost because I had a very rare, very uncharacteristic moment of gracefulness and managed to right myself before I fell.

I did whoop though and this must have stopped Squeak in his tracks so I could reach over and grab him before he set off again.

His hand was never out of ours after that!!

Bowling. It’s a dangerous sport isn’t it!!

The Missing Glove

This morning I thought,  ‘When did snow days stop being fun?’  I used to love watching the flakes come down, praying for it to settle and once it did I was out there, for hours, usually until my Mam called me in to throw me In a hot bath because I’d turned blue.

But this morning I just knew, I knew it might look pretty but it would just add to the school run stress.

It was alright for the weekend when we could hunker down and watch it from the warmth of the kitchen, see Squeaks amazement as he jumped up and down squealing with delight. It was even entertaining watching Bubba build the obligatory snow man and then throw himself around the garden ‘doing snow angels’. He has a new ‘slapstick thing’ going on so at the moment we’re all about the ‘pretend fall’ !! (Sigh)

It didn’t look so fun this morning though when I knew I had to go out in it, and not only that but I had to get them both to school, clean and dry!

I expected Bubba to fanny about as we walked, of course he would, he’s a kid, there’s snow, it’s all exciting and the funniest thing in the world, apart from chucking yourself into a drift,  is covering your parents in snow!

So he was already excited and unregulated. Then add in the fact that unless he’s pre-warned in advance, he gets anxious at any kind of change in routine and this morning that even meant the different footwear!

I asked him to put his waterproof walking boots on as I packed his school shoes into his bag to change into later.  Anyone would have thought I was prepping him for Everest base camp the amount of questions I got and the resistance to ‘something different to usual’ . And then he realised his gloves were still wet from his snowman building so he’d have to go without.

Well, that was it, WHOOSH, instant blow up.

He slammed a couple of doors, threw his bag and then sat on the stairs refusing to move – ‘well I’m not going without gloves, I’ll freeze’.

This is the same boy that five minutes ago had been complaining about me ‘making’ him wear a school jumper and coat because even though it was cold out he ‘didn’t need to wear them’.

It’s like the smallest of the things, usually a request that makes complete sense to me and ‘The Wife’, will bring on an explosion. Like a switch going off, his instant reaction is to become aggressive, argumentative, defensive.

It usually doesn’t last long but for the duration, you can’t reason with him because he’s not listening to you.  ’He’s always right’ and today there was no way he was leaving the house without gloves.

Whilst this was going on, I was trying to keep quiet and calm and get on with trying to jam Squeaks flailing arms into his coat. He took it off twice before throwing himself on the floor, screaming, waggling his legs in the air.

Lovely, just lovely.

Somedays I want to take myself to the bottom of the stairs and refuse to move or throw myself on the floor and scream. I should do it one time, see what their reaction is.

This morning I wasn’t particularly therapeutic.

I could have sat next to Bubba on that step whilst his brother lay at our feet screaming and I could have coaxed him out minus his gloves. I could have put a logical case across, knowing it would have very probably have been ignored. I could have been empathic and said ‘I know how you feel not having your gloves’.

I could have done many things which actually in the end would’t have made a blind bit of difference and would have taken so long we’d have been late and I was aware I still had Squeak to re-dress as he’d also now kicked a boot off.

SO I didn’t do any of that. Instead I told him to ‘stop being daft, stand up, get your bag and stand by the door ready. Now.’

I think he was so shocked that I was being so blunt with him that he did exactly as I asked, quick and without complaint. Soon as we were out the door he was back to ‘all’s good, happy and jolly’ and the lack of gloves was completely forgotten as he kicked through snow.

So I guess if being therapeutic works for you then great, that’s brilliant. But in our house we constantly have to rethink, mix up our strategies, find that what works one day might not work the next. It’s always constantly changing and we find our way don’t we.

I got them to school, miraculously without anyone slipping, falling, getting soaked  or having an argument and on the walk back, hearing it crunch under my feet and seeing how peaceful the mountains and fields looked,  I remembered the magic of snow days.