A Boy

It was a hot, sunny Monday, the day you were born. I lay in a bath for hours, from early morning right through lunch time, for some relief from the contractions. I worried about your sister, who was with your Nanny but probably wondering why I was gone so long. I worried about your father, who seemed restless and eager to find reasons to leave me alone. Perhaps he was feeling the stress, or the heat.

I closed my eyes and tried to picture your face. In my visions, you had the same brown eyes as your sister and a smile that would melt the coldest heart. Overwhelming love for this person I had not yet met, but kept so close, brought tears to my eyes. My second child, my first son… who would you become?

It was late evening before I met you, and I saw you whisked away, limbs hanging limp from the doctor’s hands. Sheer terror gripped me then, suddenly certain that you would not survive to be the boy in my head. The minutes that passed felt much longer than they really were, while I waited for someone to say something, anything… and then you cried.

The sweetest noise I ever heard, that wail. There was nothing but you after that, as I cradled you in my arms; it was just you and I. Eventually the outside world crept in again, and I gave you up temporarily to be adored by others, while I watched your squashed little face as you adjusted to life outside the womb.

Since then, your life has been a million moments of wonder. You were a quiet little boy, one happy to sit back and watch your sister with her theatrical performances. You let her talk for you for so long, I used to wonder when you would ever feel the need to speak. But your heart-warming smile that made your chocolate button eyes sparkle told me enough; you were happy, perfectly content in our little house, with our little family.

As you grew, you made your first friend. You met her at nursery school and she reminded me so much of your sister. Again, you took a backseat as she shrieked and giggled, happy to be along for the ride. Until the day she shut you in a cupboard, anyway… you cried that day, and sat with me, always a little warier of her after that.

It was a long time until you found your voice. Even at school, “We wouldn’t know there was anything wrong, until he’s crying quietly in the corner. He doesn’t tell us if anything happens… we wish he would!” But to me, you always spoke. I heard your stories of Spiderman and Venom; you directed me as we acted them out. We were spies, burglars, superheroes, squirrel trainers… whatever your vivid imagination conjured up. With me, you could be anything.

You loved song time before bed, would join in with me and your sister, keeping the beat with your djembe drums and singing silliness out loud. Perfect moments in my memory.

I loved to hear you talk about whatever you had learned at school, or from those programs you loved to watch… science, history, nature. A clever lad you were, coming up with theories and ideas sometimes fantastical but often close to the truth. You wanted to know how everything worked and I had my work cut out keeping up with you sometimes.

But I hated your lack of confidence. I hated that you would watch your sister do so much and feel less than her. You were never that, my kind, empathic boy. You found some things harder than she did, without a doubt, but that just meant you tried harder. You were one of a kind, truly remarkable, and you still are.

Now you are 18. My little boy is a giant of a man, with a giant heart to match. I don’t pretend to keep up with your knowledge any more, you ‘science’ much better than I do and I love it. Black holes, nuclear fusion… and still that analytical, logical mind that wants to work out more.

You give so much to people, you shoulder their worries and you care. You care so very much. That makes it sadder that I don’t see that smile so often anymore. I am worried about you.

You, my watcher, seem to absorb the energy of those around you… you are happy when everyone else is happy. I know it is stressful here, with a new arrival imminent and our home opened to others, and I am grieved to see the effect his has had on my boy.

I have let it slide, our Mum and boy time, and I am trying my best to put that right. I hope that you will keep talking to me… never forget that with me, you can be anything. Let’s find our harmony again.


A New Life

My mind is wandering today. I have some news; my daughter is pregnant and I am going to be a grandmother. I would like to say I am thrilled for her but, since she told me, all I feel is no small amount of dread and worry.

So I need to untangle these thoughts and feelings. Here goes.

I am worried about her degree; she has a year left and a dissertation to write. I appreciate that it won’t necessarily be easy, being pregnant, but it will be so much harder once she has a baby. How will her pregnancy go? Will she be able to keep working? Will she be hit with morning sickness, and a sore back, and all the other things that can come with pregnancy? How will she manage?

I am worried about her relationship. They’ve not been together long, they don’t know each other well… what if it all falls apart? I know how that feels, especially at 20 with hormones all over the place. What if he isn’t the boyfriend and father she wants him to be? What if he lets her down? Is she strong enough to pull herself back together?

She is so far away from us too. 112 miles, to be exact. What about the days when she needs a shoulder, or a hand with cleaning, or just someone to reassure her that everything is okay? What about the times that all she needs is some time out from the little person she is charged with looking after?

She’s a character, my girl. She likes to be in the very centre of everything. How will she adjust to being second in line, in the scheme of things? How will it make her feel, to have to always put another first?

How is she really feeling right now? I remember being told I was pregnant with her, and being utterly terrified… Terrified because life as I knew it was over… Terrified that I would never be able to to this job justice, and it was going to be the most important job I ever did.

And now I see what needs to happen, because that job is one that is never over. It doesn’t matter what I worry about; of course I will worry, she is still my baby, after all. What matters is that I can help her with her worries. I can remind her, on the days that she is worrying, that she is strong and beautiful and capable. I can remind her of the mountains we’ve climbed right to  the very top. I can assure her that the worries she has are nothing next to the joys and the rewards of being a parent and that, yes, she will tear her hair out at times, but one look at the face of that child will make every tear and every frustration worth it.

And, my beautiful girl, you will never be alone. Every second that you need me, I will have your back. I will laugh and cry with you… I will help you stand tall when you think you can’t, because I know what you are capable of, even if you don’t. I will hold your hand, and your child, and I will love you both so unconditionally.

Congratulations, my little girl, you are very lucky… now you will have your own little wonder, in exactly the way I have you x x x x x x


Boy Meets Girl


There’s a new girl on the scene, she’s a sweet one… She’s stolen the heart of my 17-year-old. Catching up over Netflix and milkshakes (but not for her – lactose intolerant), talking about anime (not a clue, I just listened) and watching him look at her made me feel like I was intruding upon something very important. How sweet it is, watching my boy so enamoured with this lovely young lady!

She seems to be a shy girl, lacking confidence, and I watch him ensuring that she has a place in our conversation, looking out for her, paving her way. He squeezes her hand and she blushes so red that I can almost feel the heat from the other side of the room… I leave them alone for a while, listening to their laughter and chatter from another room.

Later on, I take her home. After dropping her off safely, I talk to my boy as we drive back home.

“If she wants to stay over sometime, I have no problem with that, but she will need to sleep in the other room,” I say, and he nods his head.

“Thanks, Mum,” he says, “It might be easier than getting her home if we stay up late.”

I am aware of the conversation I ought to have next, and I have no wish to embarrass him, but I am his Mum.

“I know you won’t want to talk about it, but I do need to say that, if you are considering taking the next step with your young lady, please be the sensible lad I know you are. Remember that you can talk to me, and if there is anything you need, you must let me know,” I manage to get out before he turns his face away. He nods his head, and clears his throat, then starts to cough. For a second, I think I have embarrassed him too much, but then I realise he is trying not to laugh at me.

“I have a question…” he says, grinning at me, “You just said that she can stay over in the spare room, but now you’re saying that I might want to sleep with her… How is that going to work??”

I explain that, as a parent, I would not have wanted my 16-year-old daughter staying in some boy’s bed whilst out of my house, but that I am not daft enough to think that it would mean they never had the opportunity, if they wanted it (I HAVE been a teenager, you know).

“I would just rather know that you are both safe and secure than close my eyes to it and pretend it couldn’t happen. I just want to make sure that you know you can ask me for things, if you need to.”

At this, my boy cracks up. “Things?? What things do you mean?” he laughs, clearly loving the pained expression on my face, and barely able to contain his glee.

“While we’re on the subject, Mum… since you brought it up… are we going to have the whole birds and the bees talk? Will you tell me how everything works?” he asks, almost crying with laughter. So funny, my boy…

“And since she lives with her Dad, shall I tell her she can come to talk to you about it too, if she wants? She might really want to talk it over with someone sensible! Please let me tell her she can,” he laughs, until I think he may actually choke.

He’s lovely, my boy, but he can be a little git when he wants to be!

Tearful Teaching

I’m tearful today. A tearful teacher who can’t decide who she’s letting down most. Is it the child who wants to work but has to wait until the classroom is less like a zoo to get the help they need? The child who can’t have you look at them as you explain a task, because you can’t afford to turn your back on half a dozen or so children who are ready to destroy any semblance of peace or learning?

Perhaps it’s the child who is doing the disrupting. Perhaps it’s that child the system lets down most, because that child is not being taught how to function in real society. That child has excuses made for them. That child can turn their rage or spite on anyone in their path and there is no real consequence. The child who can say, ‘My mum is going to stab you’ or can comment on your ‘fat rolls’ to your face and then laugh out loud, but still be allowed to attend your lesson the next day. That child is unlikely to thrive without any enforced boundaries.

But most likely the child I let down the most is the one who is there when I walk through my front door worn out, crying and just wanting to cry myself to sleep in a dark room. The child who brings his mum a cup of tea and gives her a hug, but can’t stop the tears that roll down her face.

Lions and Angels

I asked one of my pupils to write the Learning Objective for my lesson onto my whiteboard today.

I began giving out books with the usual instructions, “Date, Learning Objective and starter activity please.” Nothing new there; they hear the same thing every time they enter my room. Routines are good.

But today, I hear whispers…

“What the HELL!”

“Is she for real??”

“Miss has lost the plot…”

I put on my stern face and told the class to settle, not understanding what the problem was. Until, of course, I looked over someone’s shoulder at the learning objective written at the top of the page.

‘To be able to measure lions and angels’

All of a sudden, I’m imagining a very different lesson to the one I’d planned…

lions and angels


A Trial Indeed


A week away from home with my daughter, an emotionally draining week, and we are both so glad to be home.

I would never have guessed how long everything takes in a Court of Law, until this week. A whole day for jury selection, another long day before the jury were sworn in, and all the time we sat and waited. I’d like to have said we waited patiently, but I’d be lying.  It was a week of worry, stress and tears. How many statements my daughter ended up making, I have no idea… it seemed like one after another, and for a while I was ready to attack anyone who approached her again.

Internet predators targeted my daughter, my young, naïve, idiotic daughter and it has taken so long to get to court. My daughter and I have worked hard to repair the trust in our relationship; it was an ordeal to have our bond tested yet again by the court process. We came out on top, I’m glad to say. We may have cried, but we cried together.

We got the perfect result in the end; guilty pleas without having to give evidence. Hats off to the investigating officer and the Crown Prosecution barrister for tying up any loose threads with all those statements. These people will never again be free to work with children and the world feels just a little bit safer.

I’m proud of my daughter today; she acted like the perfect young adult. She stood up for what she believed, however much of a trial it was.

The Sad Game?

I’m trying to play the Glad Game, just for you, because you tell me I have to. But I’m stuck.

Can I be glad that I’ve spent the day working, completed lesson plans and marked books? No… It reminds me that I spend too much time working, and that I’m spending my time doing insignificant things. Then I realise that I spend a lot of my time doing insignificant things, and I think about my children.

Usually my children give me a reason to be glad. Today, no such feeling… While I was out on Friday, trying to clear my head by taking a drive, my mother was wiping away my son’s tears because he called her instead of me. I spent yesterday with my boy trying to get him to talk about how he feels, but we got nowhere. He is down, and I can’t fix it. I can’t even work out why.

When I get to this point in the thought train I can go no further. All I can do is cry.