Archive for the tag “motherhood”

‘Stuff’ and, like, nonsense

There are moments as I mum when I realise that I am doing it all wrong. This is one of those moments.

I am in the car, driving my son and two female friends to after-school swimming. The ‘MOB mobile’, as we affectionately call the 7 seater ‘bus’ I use mainly to ferry small children around town, is full of bodies, bags and … silence.

“So,” I say cheerfully, glancing at my boy in the rear-view mirror, “what did you get up to at school today?”
His face doesn’t register, not even flicker.
“Hello there!” I sing. I have his attention. “What did you get up to at school?”
He gazes into the middle distance, studiously ignoring his inquisitive mother’s stare. “Stuff,” he grunts.
“‘Stuff?’” I repeat. “What kind of ‘stuff’?”
He yawns. “Just, like you know… ‘stuff’.”
“Hmmm,” I acknowledge reluctantly. “And you girls… what did you get up to?”

Half an hour later they both draw breath. I now know every single detail of every single hour, including who did what to whom, where and why. Blimey, I think, rubbing my throbbing temples, maybe having a slightly less forthcoming boy isn’t so bad after all. We arrive at the pool and tumble out.

***

Later that evening we are back from swimming. I am sitting at the supper table with all three boys.

“So,” I say to the swimmer’s brother, “what did you get up to at school today?”
He opens his mouth, realises it’s full of pasta, and rapidly closes it before I can say a word. Gesturing he’ll respond in a minute, he chews vigorously. Swimming son, however, sensing an opportunity to put in his two’pennyworth, fills the temporary void.
“We did maths today… it was really cool. And then we did PE and then ICT… ” The monologue continues for some minutes whilst his brother tries frantically to get a word in edgeways. ‘Swimmer’ however, is on a roll – he’s centre stage and he’s not getting off. His brother, disgruntled, eventually gives up and angrily stabs pieces of penne with his fork.

***

Still later that evening, the boys have had a book and are ready for bed. I kiss them goodnight, turn out the light. “Goodnight boys,” I say, “sleep well.” My foot is on the top step, poised to go downstairs.
“Muuumm,” says swimmer son.
“Hmmm?”
“Muuumm, I need to talk to you about something.”
“Now?!” I retort. It’s been a long day and my evening cup of tea is calling.
“About something that happened at school today.”
He sounds so serious, so sensible. I sigh and go back and perch on his bed.
“Right,” I say, settling in, “what is it that you need to talk to me about now?”
We sit in the darkness and I listen as he speaks.

***

So, I realise now what I’ve been doing wrong. I have been picking far too obvious and easy moments to try to communicate with my sons. What I need to do if I want more than just ‘stuff’, is to either ensure there’s plenty of fraternal competition for airspace when I ask my openers, or embark on a conversation when it’s actually high time for bed.

Then I bet you my MOB mobile they’ll be more than happy to chat.

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08.26ers…the things they say

I don’t know about you, but in our house 08.26 has to be one of the most knife-edge times of the term-time day.

When the boys were tiny, and I had three under five, it was inevitably the moment my youngest chose to – urgently and obviously – need a nappy change. When the boys were slightly bigger, it turned into the time when the older two, scrabbling to be first out of the back door and thus get their feet on a football, would trample the smallest underfoot leading to screams, chaos and carnage. And now, as my biggest boy stands on the precipice of teenage ‘sleep-in-dom’, it is the time he eventually decides to mosey downstairs and dozily try to find his shoes. And believe me doing up the laces takes some substantial time.

Yes, 08.26 is stressful enough, even on a good day. On a bad day it can be akin to starting the morning without my decadent ‘Today programme’ in-bed coffee. So what makes a morning really bad? Here are the top 5 ‘08.26ers’ which can irrevocably cast my morning mood asunder:

1. “I have swimming today mummy. I need trunks, towel, goggles and hat.”
2. “I have swimming today mummy. I need trunks, towel, goggles and hat. Named.”
3. “But I told you three months ago I needed a packed lunch today!”
4. “We have an INSET day today mum. Didn’t you know?”*
5. “I- haven’t-practised-my-spellings/learnt-my-times-tables/made-a-magnificent-collage-out-of-spare-bits-of-material and ALL my friends have and I will be the ONLY one who hasn’t done it and ‘Miss’ is gonna put me in detention FOR like EVER” (accompanied by wails – theirs and mine)

*Although this could obviously be met with relief/horror/excitement, mood and plan-dependant

These are just a few of my favourite ‘08.26ers’. What are the magic words that plunge you into school run despair?

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