Saturday, 26 January 2013

Skillz; My top 3 falls.

There's few things I can say I am better at that anyone else. Firstly, anything that involves sport or coordination is ruled out with my first breath. Then, anything that involves deadlines or punctuality is obliterated with my second. And if it happens to require any level of tidiness or cleanliness then it's also gone...

But one skill I have acquired over the years is being good at falling.

And do you know what? I'm going to put it out there and say: I'm better than most. To be fair it has taken a lot of inappropriate shoes, some unsavoury amounts of alcohol and a clumsy DNA make up to perfect this art. But that's right Falling is my skill!

Now let's just make it clear here, I wouldn't want you to get the wrong end of the stick. I'm not good at falling in a "Oh she nearly fell  but saved herself kind of way",  oh no, I'm good at falling in a "Ha ha she landed on her face" kind of way.

And by good, I mean I have done it spectacularly, in a variety of places, in front of various people and with a vast amount of humiliation. But what I do well is damage limitation. I have never broken a bone (except the odd toe or a thumb, but no one counts those do they?).

Therefore, with the wintry weather hanging around like a bad smell, and every other day being pot luck between slippy-slidey-catch-you-off-guard-slush and fatal-ice-patches,  I was sure this week's blog would be a cringy snapshot of me landing on my arse, in the snow, in front of all the other mums at the school gate. But, alas, it isn't. I didn't. That post can wait till next year.

But not one to disappoint, I thought I'd relive my 3 most spectacular falls of all time. Just because there's nothing I like more on a Saturday morning that a bit of self-humiliation.


In no particular order...

1. The starfish

So notoriously Newly Qualified Teacher's get wankered at the end of year do. It's just how it works. They haven't quite grasped "professional drinking" and are still partaking in that no-rules "student drinking", where not being able to talk or walk by 10pm is quite acceptable.

Anyhow, after the official "do", some of us continued unofficially drinking in a night club, which is always a good idea when you will be teaching 30 teenagers the next morning. And whilst on the edge of the dance floor, stood with my new, young and trendy colleagues,one second I was stood up drink in hand, and the next, inexplicably lay on my back in the shape of a star fish. There was no obvious reason for this fall. I wasn't even doing that "dancing in one spot" thing.  If it hadn't been for the bang and the huge bruise on my arse you would have thought I just taken position down there for a rest. But no, it was definitely a fall.

And the following may or may not be true
  • There were some of the current 11 pupils in the night club
  • I was down there for some time
  • I woke up with night club sludge in my hair
  • I was still pissed the next day at work

2. The somersault.

In my final year at university, My brother and Sister joined me for New Year Celebrations. This year Newcastle was true to form: loud, drunken and cold (it was snowing in fact). After 3 years in The 'Toon I had joined in the Geordie spirit of freezing to death on a night out. This night's attire included brand new knee high boots and a mini skirt.

We ended the night at a house party. I remember downing something disgusting being passed off as punch in the kitchen, I remember doing a samba style dance to Van Morrison's 'Moondance' in the living room (pretty much entailed my house mate throwing me around the room) and I remember there were many drinking games and I joined in them all! The next thing I remember is talking to my brother at the top of the stairs slurring and spitting "No, it's totally not time to go home" and then I descended the stairs via a somersault (unplanned, obviously). The party guests in the downstairs living room, apparently had the best view as my somersault continued past the entrance and along the hallway!

 The next day I was told the noise as I tumbled deafened the party music, the fall itself was "death-defying" and my emergence, where I stood up holding the heel from my new boot in my hand saying " Yes, you're right it is time to go", would be told at New Year's Parties for years to come!

3. The scissors!

I am notorious for wearing inappropriate shoes. So when I was pregnant with my first child, I was  determined to be extra cautious in the bad weather. I decided to abandon all fashion sense and don a pair of walking boots to make the journey from my car to the school gates safely.

I had managed two days without feeling unsteady on the ice, on the third, I poured myself out of the driver seat, pushed the front seat forward, smiled at my passing colleagues, as I turned and bent over to retrieve my bag from the back seat. Just then my walking boot skidded on some ice, I lost my footing and tumbled head first into the back of my car. My pregnant arse, legs, and walking boots were left sticking out the doorway like a pair of scissors with boxing gloves on the end! I don't think any pupils were there to witness this masterpiece, but I know the male PE department did, as they were the ones who pulled me out!

So I challenge you to give me your worst? Are you better at falling than me? Prove it!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

"Captain Barnacles do you read me?"

My eldest son always had a toy he LOVED. Really loved. Toys he took everywhere. Toys he absent-mindedly left everywhere. Toys his parents spent hours retrieving from EVERYWHERE. Everywhere being playgroups, leisure centres, shopping centres, church halls and sandpits. We were forever banging on doors, after hours, asking if there happened to be a plastic Thomas the tank engine left behind. (In later years it was the less recognised and smaller die cast Lightening Mcqueen).

Therefore, we were slightly relieved when our second son, wasn't really that into a particular toy and never really got attached to a fictional character. On the downside buying birthday and Christmas presents for him was a real chore. We would desperately grasp at an idea, knowing full well it wouldn't really be right. If he showed a faint interest in something one week, we would buy all the merchandise for it and by the time his birthday came, you could guarantee he was over it.

However,this year we hit the present jackpot, Just as he started watching  "Octonauts" We ordered him this...

The Octopod!

It was a huge success, beyond our parenting dreams. In fact, aftrer opening it first he refused to open any other Christmas presents. i admit it was a bit uncomfortable to watch the in laws looking wistfully at their discarded, still wrapped presents he had barely glanced at, but still, triumph was ours... We had cracked it. We were present buying geniuses!

He played with it all day.

And when he couldn't play with it (when he was eating Christmas dinner, in the bath and sleeping) he tightly clutched the two little plastic figures, which had come with it, as if he was guarding the secret to eternal happiness.

And that's where they stayed, Captain Barnacles and Kwazii, in his little fists. They went everywhere with him. He LOVED a toy! Well, two. He loved two little toys!

Then the holidays ended and real life began again. It was with a lump of dread I thought about Kwazii and Barnacles coming on the school run with us, it was with sweaty palms I thought of them joining us at playgroup and with a sharp breath I considered whether they would float or sink in the swimming baths.

But fortunately, our middlest son was not quite as absent-minded as his brother. He would safely put them in the buggy when he wanted to slide down the fireman's pole at the park (a two handed job). He would never leave a venue without checking they were on his person. On exited the car he would say "Kwazii? Yes. Captain Barnables? Yes. Let's go"

How refreshing this was. What a clever little poppet.

But then we had a real test: playgroup. When playgroup morning arrived Middlest son bounded into the church hall. Kwazii in one fist, Barnacles in the other and the other children fell silent. He eyed their salivating mouths as they clasped sight of the NEW TOYS. In a flash he had scampered up to me "Mama! In your bag!" he said placing them safely into my hand bag and returning to the pit to fight over a broken train set and a battered pushchair  with his contemporaries.

The rest of the day we were busy. We went food shopping, to the library, nursery and had a play date. It wasn't until he was in the bath he turned to The FH and said "Where's Captain Barnables? Where's Kwazii?"

The FH turned to me, suddenly aware he hadn't seen them in his clenched fists all evening.

"It's OK I've got them" I said smugly tottering down the stairs.

My heart actually stopped when my fumbling hand could only find one plastic figure in my bag. One cat shaped figure.

Barnacles had gone.

Jumped ship.

I'd lost him.

I returned to the bathroom. Handed Middlest Kwazii, avoided eye contact and turned on my heel. "Where's Captain Barnables?" said a little voice behind me. I caught The FH's eyes, searched for some words, failed to find any, and tried not to cry."

The FH stepped in "he's on on a mission."

But try as we might we couldn't palm him off. We could tell him he was hiding, he was on an adventure, he was saving a star fish from a near fatal sea-cliff fall. But Middlest Son only repeated "Where is Captain Barnables?"

It was the last thing he said at night.

And the first thing he said when he woke up.

And every time I looked into his little sad eyes a little piece of me died.

And every time he went looking for him The FH turned to me and shook his head. Because I obviously needed help feeling guilty. I clearly wasn't managing to feel the guilt by myself. I must have looked far too happy.. Even though I was fucking suffocating in the guilt!

So then next morning I logged onto amazon and ordered a replacement. Delivery said "3- 5 days". 3-5 Days! We couldn't continue like this for 5 days. In 5 days this guilt would have eaten away like a ravenous carnivore. In 5 days I would be nothing more than a pile of bones and flesh and guilt slobber! This was clearly the emergency moment when I paid for an express delivery. This warranted the extra cost right? Wrong, At the checkout I discovered the express charge was more than the toy itself. Fuck it... we would wait 5 days.

Two days passed and Middlest Son was a shadow of him former self, clutching desperately to Kwazii, reluctant to let him out of his sight for a second; I, especially, was not allowed to touch him.

We unearthed an old Captain Barnacles that had belonged to his brother. He was wearing a red diving suit, instead of the official blue Octonaut costume and only had one arm, but we thought it would help. It didn't. He threw it away in disgust. And who could blame him? It wasn't Captain Barnables, Barnables wore blue and had two arms. This was an Octonaut impostor!

So he continued  to cling onto Kwazii. I  had to persuade the nursery staff to let him break the unwritten rule of "no toys from home" on the grounds he was being clingy after the holidays. Thank god they agreed. I couldn't tell them there was no way on this earth he was going to hand over that toy over to me, his mother, The Loser of Favourite Toys.

Then finally, one afternoon, when he was at nursery, the postman delivered a brown parcel which was branded with those lovely shiny black letters Amazon. Gushing many thank yous to a bewildered postman was the only way of stopping myself offering to  bear his unborn children as a way of showing my appreciation.

I spent the next hour extracting Captain B from its child proof packaging and then hopped, skipped and smiled my way to the school. I was giddy. This was going to be better than Christmas.

A solemn looking nursery teacher opened the door and my giddy smile slid off my face. This look was usually saved for telling a parent their child was either covered in poo or had had a scrap with another kid and come off worse. Either way I was sure I could cheer him up with Barnacles.

"He's a bit upset..." She began, looking at the floor.

"...We're not sure how..." she continued, taking a deep breath

"...But in the last 10 minutes..." she paused and then blurted out.

"He's lost his little toy Kwazii. And we can't find him anywhere."

Middlest son appeared in the doorway silently sobbing.

"It's OK darling" I said brandishing Captain Barnacles in his face. "Look who Mama found"

He paused took hold of Barnacles, checked he was wearing blue and had two good arms, took a deep breath and said... "But Where's Kwazii?" and burst into tears.