Archive for the category “parenting”

The 12 Days of MOB Rule for Mothering Sunday

The 1st gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 2nd gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 2 hours between feeds & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 3rd gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 3 pups a’leaping… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 4th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 4 times of ‘Thomas’… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 5th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 5 gummy grins… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 6th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 6 muddy wellies… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 7th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 7 balls a’ bouncin’… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

 The 8th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 8 plasters sticking… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 9th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 9 sticks a bashin’… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 10th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 10 bottoms burping… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 11th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 11 black socks (mismatched)… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

The 12th gift of motherhood my small sons gave to me: 12 beautiful boy hugs… & an out-of-hours trip to A&E

Happy Mothering Sunday to all MOBs, MOGs and Perfect Pairs! May you be mercilessly spoilt and hugely hugged!

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Why I don’t look forward to World Book Day

Every year, round about World Book Day, my heart sinks.

Not, I hasten to add before I am thoroughly lambasted by the book-lover-brigade, because of the focus on all things written. No, I am 100% in favour of a Day dedicated to celebrating the written word, having spent a large chunk of my early adolescence upside down on the back seat of a Ford Cortina devouring Agatha Christie. Probably best to keep that story for another light news day.

No, my heart sinks because I know that, with the unfailing inevitability of a moany Monday following a too-late-to-bed Sunday, the boys will skip home from school brandishing ‘The Letter’. ‘The Letter’ which merrily encourages them to ‘dress up as their favourite character from a book’ in return for one shiny pound. And I have no problem with the pound , indeed I would happily part company with a significant amount more if only there wasn’t the ‘creative’ element involved.

The conversation goes something like this:

‘I don’t know who to go as!’ (boy)

‘You’ve read loads of books… which is your favourite?’ (mum)

‘Oh, I don’t know!’ (boy)

‘Well,’ (mum, helpful), ‘why not someone from Starfighters, Famous Five, Harry Potter?’

‘We don’t have any Starfighters’ costumes, no one would recognise the Famous Five and absolutely EVERYONE does Harry Potter!’

‘Well,’ (mum, slightly less helpful), ‘what about Horrid Henry – that could be fun. You could go as Henry and your brother as Perfect Peter!’

‘Horrid Henry is for KS1 mum, not KS2. And anyway, there’s absolutely no way I’m going with HIM!’

‘Ooooh, for goodness sake!’ (mum, thoroughly exasperated and out of ideas) ‘Look, you think about what you want to be and let me know when you’ve decided and we’ll come up with something.’

‘Maybe I won’t bother this year…’ (boy – muttering). ‘Dunno what to go as anyway…’

***

Morning of World Book Day

‘But I thought you said you weren’t going to dress up this year?’ (mum, one leg in car, one leg out, about to put the key in the ignition to head off for school)

‘I didn’t MEAN it mum… oh, everyone else will be dressing up and I’ll be the only one who isn’t and Miss said there’s a prize for the best costume and I’ll look silly if I don’t….’

(Mum, sounding not unlike Horrid Henry herself): ‘Arggggggghhhhhhh!’

There follows frantic scrabbling in the dressing up box resulting in an odd assortment of tweed caps and recycled Victorian topic garb.

‘Perfect… there you are: Oliver Twist. Now get into the car and LET’S GO!!’

‘Oliver who?’ asks boy, but knows better than to push it. ‘OK…thanks. Er… can I have my pound?’

***

So this year, I awaited World Book Day with the usual trepidation.

‘Bring a book you’ve enjoyed and finished with into school to swap’ read the instruction on the crumpled letter thrust into my hand. Genius! Fantastic! We can do that! Giddy with relief, I nigh on dance for joy.

 But boy proffers another piece of paper.

‘As you may be aware, next Friday is Red Nose Day. The children are invited to… dress up as their favourite character from a book in return for a pound.’

Noooooooooooo.

Six reasons why it’s marvellous being a Mother Of Boys…

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/showbiz/2013/02/05/what-is-it-really-like-being-the-mother-of-boys-91466-32745038/

What does the car you drive say about you?

The other day we went to the beach. Nothing – since we moved to coastal Devon – particularly unusual about that. We can, like so many other members of the ‘boy brigade’, frequently be found on a stretch of sand, exercising the ‘pups’, whatever the weather.

We pull into the car park in our Citroen C8, the replacement for our too-small two-boy Renault Scenic. It has 7 seats and is nearly 2m tall. Avoiding underground car parks is a small price to pay for banishing boy bickering. Grunting to a halt, I park the ‘bus’ as it’s affectionately known – far enough away not to risk scratches or dents – next to a fellow beach-walker’s car. It is pristine, pink and apparently ‘powered by Fairy Dust.’ The ‘MOB mobile’ most blatantly is not.

Here is a list of what ‘powers’ our car:
Sand
Babybel shells
Plasters
Sandwich crusts
Balls/marbles/anything round that might bounce or be kicked
Breadsticks
More sand
An apple core
A rounders bat
Mud
And – just for good measure – a bit more sand

A friend had the misfortune of travelling in our car – once. ‘If you added water to this,’ she reflected staring at the floor, ‘you could make pizza!’ How rude, I thought to myself, how rude. But I have to admit she probably has a point.

Thankfully, I have never been a car person. My first was a Suzuki Alto, followed swiftly (due to decrepitude) by a Fiat Punto. And a secondhand Polo was as glam as it got. Cars, to me, are there for a purpose: they are a vehicle for transporting me and my kids safely and swiftly from A to B. And, on a good day, hopefully back.

Still, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy when I spot a particularly gorgeous car. Not, I’ll admit, one that’s shocking pink and seems to be spouting flowers, but one that is quirkily interesting, funky, fun. A Beetle maybe, in racing green or blue. A stripy 2CV with headlamps which bulge like bugs’ eyes. A Fiat 500 (old model of course), with only 2 doors and a sun roof to boot. Cars which, I am acutely aware, would struggle to house me and my weekly shop, let alone a bevy of boys.

For now, therefore, I will continue to board my people carrier bus. Practical, purposeful and let’s face it, a bit boring. But one day… One day, when my boys have flown the nest and are buying 7 seaters of their own, the FOB and I will buy our car. And we will strap our vintage suitcase full of scarves and light sweaters to the back, and drive off into the south of France sunset in our MG Midget. Just one boy and his babe on board.

Two newspapers in one weekend and a forecast of snow!

Last week, for me, was a bit like snow in the South West. Unexpected, exciting and just a little bit scary.

Because last weekend, Saturday to be precise, the MOB appeared in both the Guardian and the Times.

For the Guardian I wrote a feature entitled ‘Mad about the boys’, a piece dedicated to the almost sacred relationship between a boy and his stick. To find out more about why they may be mere pieces of wood to you, but they’re oh-so-not to a son, read here… http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/12/hannah-evans-mother-of-boys

The Times meanwhile, ran an extract of ‘MOB Rule’, alongside ‘Bringing up boys: a parent’s guide to getting it right’. Much more academically supported advice than my entirely anecdotal tales, I delved into the guide. The only bit I found slightly concerning is that the daily calorific intake of a teenage boy is around 2775 (almost as much as Olympic athletes); I therefore picture myself in five years time pushing not one, but two trolleys. To read on, go here (but you’ll need to pay!)… http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/families/article3654616.ece

I would do anything for love. But I won’t do THAT

Like most mothers, I imagine, I would do anything for my kids. Because I want to make sure they’re as happy as possible. And, in the ten years since I became a mother, I have discovered that, to achieve this happiness, I am capable of doing things which – pre-kids – I didn’t think I would, or could.

Take morning sickness.

In many respects I am proud, and pleased, to take after my mother. In inheriting her propensity to during-pregnancy violent-vomiting, I am not. Pregnant with my first, I was less ‘blooming’, more ‘wilting’ as I spent the first trimester, and much of the second, within retching distance of a loo. My bed was my home, anything edible my enemy, even smelling – let alone sampling food – made me feel like I’d crossed the English channel in a Force 9 gale. ‘How much longer can this go on?’ I’d moan, clutching my tender stomach and making my way slowly up the stairs to re-adopt the almost permanently prone position. I was, to all intents and purpose, utterly useless.

Six months after the birth of firstborn Sensible Son, I was, once again, with child, and thus, inevitably with morning sickness. Only this time round it was different. The symptoms unfortunately, were just the same: the inability to eat, the drunken-sailor feel, the desire to spend the vast majority of my days in bed. It was only my reality that had actually altered. Because now, of course, I had a tiny baby to care for who was blissfully oblivious to the fact that, when he woke his mother for 2, 4 and 6.45am feeds, she felt like she’d downed more than a couple of bottles of Claret the night before. A small person who didn’t much fancy waiting patiently for his mashed banana and avocado mush whilst his mother plucked up the courage to open the fridge door. An infant for whom staying in his cot all day gurgling whilst his mother quelled her queasiness in bed, was about as likely as him sleeping through the night. Whether I felt like it or not, my baby needed feeding, changing, entertaining. And so, of course, I got on with it. Not always, I’ll admit, with a smile on my face, but got on with it nevertheless. I coped; I overcame.

And this ability to ‘overcome’ for the good of my boys continues as they grow.

So I dry them on the beach first, and then worry about my always-frozen self.
I read them a bedtime story despite having a head which pounds like Big Ben.
I get them to school, fully dressed and on time, whilst feeling rough as rats with flu.

But, I have discovered this week that there is a threshold of ‘overcoming’ I cannot cross.

Because youngest Feisty Fellow’s topic this term is – birds. And I don’t ‘do’ birds.
I’d go further. Ever since a large gander named Sid leapt on top of six year old me, I have been petrified (with a capital ‘P’) of our feathered friends. I run away from sparrows, can’t share a pub garden with ducks, struggle even to touch a picture of a bird in an innocuous boy book.
So.
‘Mum,’ says Feisty Fellow excitedly, brandishing an RSPB leaflet, ‘Can we visit one of these bird sanctuaries so that I can study the birds?’
I shiver. Consult my petrol tank of maternal ability to overcome. And, to my embarrassment, find it woefully empty.
‘I’m a… um… little bit err… busy,’ I bluster unconvincingly. ‘Why don’t you take dad?’

Why I will resolve to lose weight again this year after all

My spam box today is full of miracle solutions for getting rid of excess stomach fat. ‘Start the New Year with a new skinny you’ they promise. Ordinarily, I might be tempted. This year, however, thanks to non-stop illness over the Festive Season, losing weight will not (unlike most years since I was about 16) be top of my ‘resolutions-for-the-New-Year-invariably-failed’ list.

What then I wonder, should be my, and the rest of the family’s, resolutions this year? I pose the question at the tea table.

‘What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2013, Sensible Son?’ I ask.
‘Ermm… to not wind up my brothers,’ he replies, gurning brightly at his smaller siblings.
‘And yours, Binary Boy?’ I say, ignoring his brother’s contorted face.
‘To not be wound up by my brothers,’ replies middle son, flicking a glob of baguette at his elder aggravator.
I intercept the baguette and turn to smallest son. ‘And you? What are you going to do in 2013, wee man?’
‘Ooh, wee man, wee man, maybe be a pee man,’chant his bigger brothers.
Feisty Fellow jumps down from the table. ‘To not over-react when they wind me up,’ he shouts over his shoulder, as he slams the door.

Oh. That went well.

‘What’s your New Year resolution then?’ the FOB asks me.
‘Well…’ I say, eyeing the door and waiting for it to inevitably re-open, ‘I was thinking the 3 c’s… to stay calm, to question, to cuddle…’
‘Question’s a ‘q’ not a ‘c’!’ interrupts Binary Boy.
‘…not get CROSS!’ I finish. ‘Yours?’ I ask the FOB. Crossly.
‘Sorry?’ he says with his special kind of dreaming of roof-structures smile. ‘Oh… er, mine… yes … to listen. That’s right. To be more attentive.’

I sigh. Clear up the kitchen. Flash up the computer and hover over some spam. After all, apparently you can never be too rich… or too thin.

Happy New Year from the MOB and her boys
x

Why we SHOULD let our kids buy US presents

Last weekend we went to a carol service in our local church. The boys had been drafted in, in order of age as a King, a Shepherd and a Joseph. ‘This is the last time I dress up,’ growled eldest Sensible Son, as he struggled into his gown and crown. ‘Please can I just do a reading next year?’ I looked at his too-long legs sticking out of his too-short ‘dress’ and had to agree that he had a point.

Anyway. There was I, gazing in amused adoration, as Mary and Joseph marched up the aisle, overtaken by an errant 15 month old angel, when something the Vicar said made me sit up and listen.

Her child-friendly sermon had started out predictably enough. She’d talked about the joy of presents: about the joy being in the giving, not just the receiving. Absolutely, I’d agreed, nodding. Even before, but particularly since the births of my boys, the joy of Christmas for me is finding that perfect something you know will make someone smile. Watching the recipient’s eyes light up as they tear open their gift. Seeing them animatedly examine what you’ve bought them – albeit, in the case of very small children, for a few scant seconds, before moving, excitedly, on to the next.

‘But,’ she’d continued, going off standard Christmas-message-script, ‘it’s not only adults who love the giving. Some time ago, my son – then sixteen – taught me a valuable lesson.’ To paraphrase (as since then my memory has been addled by a mixture of Lemsip and mulled wine) she’d recounted how, that year (as indeed every year) she’d tried to dissuade him from spending too much of his hard-earned wages on buying presents. ‘We don’t need gifts from you,’ she’d told him, ‘your love and happiness is more than enough.’
Her son had turned on her eventually, with something bordering anger. ‘But mum,’ he’d countered, ‘why should you be the only one to have the fun?’

Bells starting ringing loudly, for me and my boys.

How many times, I pondered, had I told the boys that I had everything I wanted, and didn’t need any presents?
How often had I told them not to ‘waste’ their money on their mum, that it was enough for me to see their smiles?
How many times, I wondered, had I (inadvertently) spoilt their fun?

How many?

Sermon, and service, over, the lanky shepherd threw his lamb into Mary’s lap, and we headed to the back to munch mince pies.

***

Today the FOB and I took the boys, and their cousins, last-minute Christmas shopping.

And I watched the FOB bend down as Feisty Fellow whispered earnestly in his ear. Before, hand in hand, they headed off together in the direction of the Cook Shop. I don’t need any more spatulas, but that’s not the point.
And I stood, for at least a quarter of an hour, as Binary Boy fingered each and every product in the Cadbury’s outlet, humming and hawing over what item of chocolate his dad would like best. His dad doesn’t need any more chocolate, but that is also, not the point.
And I nodded my agreement as Sensible Son sped off, £10 note in hand, who knows where or why. Neither the FOB or I need any presents worth a whole £10, but that, as I understand all too clearly now, is not the point.

So when, on Christmas Day I add something far too expensive, and possibly unnecessary, to all that I already have, I will thank them and smile broadly. Because I will know that – they too – will have had their fun.

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