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Friday, 11 December 2015

The Star

She didn't have a speaking part
Because the words were tricky.
(Though was glad she wasn't Mary
Because Joseph's hands were sticky.)
She'd hoped to be an angel
Because angels point their toes. 
But they'd offered her a shepherd
And she didn't like the clothes. 

Now all the parts were given out 
And she was just 'the crowd.'
As she faced the sea of mums and dads,
Her little head was bowed.

Until she saw, right up the back,
Her mummy’s loving glance.
That found her and stayed fixed on her
Through every song and dance.
Whilst one king whacked the others,
With his golden box of myrrh.
Her mummy never peeped at them;
Those eyes stayed fixed on her.
And even though poor Jesus fell,
When the manger somehow tipped.
And Gabriel danced a solo
That wasn’t in the script.
Her mummy just looked straight at her
Like no one else was there.
It made her feel so wonderful
And she no longer cared.
That she didn’t have a ‘proper’ part
Which everybody ‘ahhed.’
Because, looking through her mummy’s eyes,
She would always be the star.

 Emma Robinson 2015


Friday, 23 October 2015

In Defence of Slacker Mums

The word ‘slacker’ is misleading. Slacker mums are NOT lazy. On the contrary, Slacker mums are trying to be everything and do everything. We had a life once; a life we liked. Trying to keep that life going at the same time as being the best mum we can makes for a pretty busy schedule.

 Often we are juggling home and work. And feeling like we're not doing a particularly good job at either. Bolting out the door of the office as the clock ticks to 5.00 so that we can get home in time to deliver our child to Dance Club/Swimming/Beavers and then having to apologise again because we have forgotten their shoes/swimming cap/woggle. 

Rushed is our middle name. There are school mornings when we have to make a split second decision on whose hair will be brushed because there's not enough time for all of us. Trips to the supermarket are against the clock as we throw food into a trolley into which we have trapped our iPhone watching children. At parties we have to accept the 'late again' jibes from the Smug Mothers even though we think they should be grateful that we turned up at all.  

We can't do craft. Oh, we do our best. We spend our overdraft in Hobbycraft, Google "easy craft no glitter" and try to pretend that we're enjoying ourselves. But it's hard to shrug off the utter pointlessness of a task which involves spending an hour of our life creating a random monstrosity which will be littering various places in our living room or kitchen until the children have forgotten it and we can scoot it into the bin. (All the while trying not to think that that piece of crap probably cost £7 in tissue paper and stickers.) 

Some of us are a little disorganised. We may be found fishing yesterday's school uniform out of the washing basket (if it made it that far) and wiping it clean with a wet wipe. We are sometimes haranguing our children with felt tips and coloured paper at 7:30 in the morning because we’ve just found a crumpled homework sheet at the bottom of a school bag. We often meet each other frantically searching in Tesco for a superhero costume/Christmas jumper/Pudsey bear T-shirt at 11pm the night before a school dressing up day. 

But when we do see another Slacker Mum, the relief is immense. Meeting one another’s eyes in a café where at least one of our children is under the table and raising our mug in solidarity. Confessing in whispers that our child’s lunchbox includes a sandwich containing only ketchup because we didn’t have the energy to fight that morning. When we recognise one of our own, we nod and smile the smile that says, “Me too, sister.”

Because Slacker mums don't judge. We don't even treat the Perfect Mothers with disdain. No, we admire them with their immaculate school run hair and tidy "drop by any time" houses. Sometimes, for three consecutive days, we actually manage to BE them. But, hey, we're Slackers: it never lasts. 

 If we’re honest, we can’t always blame motherhood for these characteristics. We were probably not renowned for our tidiness, punctuality and organisation before having children. It was just a lot easier to hide when we only had ourselves to look after. Slacker mums are actually trying very hard: it is because we have spent 20 minutes working out beautifully coordinated outfits for our children that we ourselves leave the house looking like we’ve just been electrocuted.

And it definitely doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy being a mum. Our lives are busy and stressful and disorganised but they are also full of moments of joy when we look at our family laughing, playing and enjoying each other and feel a contentment that makes everything else completely worthwhile. We Slacker Mums love our children so much we could eat them. It's just that, sometimes, we wish we had. 

Begin a Slacker Mum means never quite feeling like you have this motherhood thing nailed. Sometimes we try to do everything, but end up feeling that we’ve achieved nothing. Sometimes we measure ourselves against the Perfect Mothers and find ourselves wanting. Sometimes we berate ourselves because we’re not the best cook, housekeeper or creator of creatures from egg boxes and loo rolls.

But always we love our children, we do our best and we try to support the other Slacker Mums around us. And we know that, ultimately, that is all that really matters.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

To My Second Child

You’re not my first; that much is true.
I loved another before loving you.
I’m a different mother this time around.
More calm and confident I’ve found.

With your brother, everything was new.
I was focused on his every move.
Each tiny smile was photographed.
I changed my ringtone to his laugh. 

Since you came, there’s a new dimension.
Two children now want my attention.
And sometimes you’re left in your chair,
Whilst I play with your brother over there.

 I cannot watch your every move.
Or, when you cry out, jump to soothe.
I don’t panic every time you sneeze,
And dash you off to A & E.

Your rattles and teds are hand-me-downs,
(And some toys may have lost their sounds.)
There’s less concern if your blanket’s scratchy,
And your baby book is a little patchy. 

I know what the next months have in store.
And each phase you reach, I’ve seen before.
This doesn’t mean I love you less.
This time the feeling’s more complex. 

I’m pleased to see you learn and grow,
But it also pulls my heartstrings so.
I was so excited first time ‘round.
This time I want to slow things down. 

Your ‘firsts’ will all be ‘lasts’ for me.
Last crawl and last to ride my knee.
Last nappy, breastfeed, spoon of mush.
Last rock-to-sleep, last cry to hush.

 You were not my firstborn this is true,
But the last child I will have is you.
You’re the last lullaby I’ll ever sing.
And ‘lasts’ are a special kind of thing.


Friday, 16 October 2015

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

“Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event.” (Wikipedia)

When a friend introduced me to the concept of FOMO, the relief of being able to put a name to my condition was palpable. FOMO explains the symptoms I have laboured with for years: a diary as full as Katie Price’s bra and a purse as correspondingly empty; that sick, sinking feeling when I realised I really couldn’t make a family party, a night out with my work friends and a school trip to the theatre all on the same night.
My husband has never suffered with this condition. For him, one engagement in a month borders on a social whirlwind. When we had been together for about two weeks (and I had already started to mentally write a wedding guest list and name our future children) he mentioned casually that he didn’t like to arrange more than one night out in a week. It was almost a deal breaker. On reflection, one of the main reasons he was keen to have children at all was the ‘get out clause’ they would give him. What better excuse to turn down a night out than “we can’t get a babysitter” or “baby has been unwell”?

For me, however, having children has only exacerbated the problem. They have brought with them a whole host of separate events which I can’t possibly turn down. Baby rhyme time, craft afternoons, children’s parties. Anything advertised with ‘Children’s Activities’ in a ten mile radius, I am writing down in my diary and dragging them along.
Added to this is the fact that I am more knackered than I have ever been in my life. No longer can a full week of ‘busy-ness’ be recovered from with a morning in bed; weekend lay-ins are for wimps according to my offspring. After five days of prising them out of bed for school like winkles from their shells, they leap out of bed on a Saturday and Sunday ready to live life to the full.

But, despite their early rising on a weekend morning, they are in no rush to get out of their pyjamas and leave the house. Often I am pulling them away from a perfectly contented game or colouring-in session with promises that they will ‘have a great time’ wherever we are going. It has taken a while for me to realise that they were actually having a ‘great time’ at home, just pottering about and playing with their toys (it’s their father’s genes.)
I don’t want to paint a false picture here. I genuinely enjoy (almost) all of the events that we attend but sometimes my ‘FOMO’ backfires on itself. Time seems to be shooting past since William and Scarlett arrived. Days, weeks, even months are disappearing never to be recovered. Gradually I am realising that, by filling my diary with a million things to do, I actually AM missing out. Missing out on just being with my children. No plans, no rushing around and no opening/closing times to panic about. At their age, our happiest times are making a tent out of the duvet and laying under it eating bourbons from the packet.

Therefore, I have made the decision that these more relaxed moments are the ones that I will be making sure I am not missing out on. From now on, my diary will be taking second place and I will embrace an empty weekend as an opportunity to just hang out and see how the mood takes us. We might go out, we might stay home, but we won’t be dashing from one place to the next in the fear that we will miss out on something. Because the ‘something’ we don’t want to miss out on is right here.

And if anyone tells my husband he was right, I will deny everything.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

If (Inspired by Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Is an ever growing pile of toys and games
If you can referee a fight about a felt tip
And still love both the fighters just the same
If you can function on three hours of sleeping
And still be running round the park next day
If you can cook whilst helping out with homework
And listening to all they have to say.
If you can clean a room with just some wet wipes
And understand the cleaning up will never cease
If you can bear to re-box mixed-up jigsaw puzzles
And stay up ‘til you’ve found that final piece
If you can thank them for the ‘dinner’ that they’ve made you
Even though the mess confirms your deepest fears
Or watch the lounge that you’ve just tidied cluttered
And start again to tidy without tears

If you can make a fort with toilet rolls and Pritt stick
And cope with glitter stuck to all your clothes
If you can sit through Kid’s TV without a vodka
(even if you sometimes have a little doze)
If you can keep all entertained on long car journeys
With puzzles, games and shrink wrapped healthy snacks
And stay calm even though you feel like swearing
When World War Three still kicks off in the in the back

If you can read the same book ten times over
Keeping perfectly to every word and rhyme
If you can hear the same lame joke repeated
And laugh enthusiastically each time
If you can listen to your children’s constant moaning
Without going completely ‘round the bend
Yours is the pure love unconditional
And – which is more – you’ll be a mum, my friend.

Friday, 9 October 2015

When boys and girls come out to play

William: Will you play Clash of Clans with me?
Scarlett: Yes. Then will you dance with me?
William: Yes, afterwards. You can have this sword and I will have the bow and arrow.
Scarlett: OK. Then will you marry me?
William: OK then.
Just before sitting down to write this morning, I was having a light saber fight with my son whilst trying not to wake my daughter’s ‘baby’.
This kind of gender specific play is not something of which I approve. Before having children, I was convinced that traditional male/female roles were something we learned, not something we were born with. Seems, as far as my children are concerned, I didn’t have that quite right.
It is certainly not something they have learned from us. Both husband and I work a three-day week so that we have exactly the same amount of days at home with the children. And if I tell you that they call our vacuum cleaner ‘Daddy’s hoover’ that tells you everything you need to know about who does the most housework around here.
Determined that my children wouldn’t be raised to follow stereotypes, I always made sure they had toys from both sections of the toyshop. When he was small, I bought William a baby doll and a buggy. He ignored the doll and used the buggy to transport his building blocks from room to room. Scarlett is no better. She has a sword which matches her brother’s, but she has tied a ribbon around the hilt of hers so that it can be used as a magic wand.
Which leaves me at a loss. What am I supposed to do? Should I remove all toys with any kind of gender connotation from the house? Rip the baby doll forcibly from Scarlett’s arms and make William face up to his parental responsibilities? Threaten him with the CSA?
Admittedly, it’s not always so black and white (or pink and blue.) Whilst putting on a puppet show of Rapunzel one rainy day, I laid aside all my feminist principles to put on a squeaky ‘princess’ voice and ask the knight to save me. I was pretty pleased when William put his head on one side and said, “Hmmm, maybe you could turn your hair into a lasso and save yourself?” Scarlett has also been known to dress herself from head to toe in pink and sparkles and then ‘tool up’ with an armoury of weapons that would impress Rambo.
Which leads me the conclusion that they are who they are. My determination that my daughter will be able to smash through any glass ceilings which stand in her way as a woman will not be affected by her penchant for Barbie and hair accessories. In the same way, the fact that my son has decided that he is a Super Spy in training should not deter him from becoming a sensitive man who takes an equal place with women in society.
Therefore, the next time I am fending off an attack from the dark side whilst holding my imaginary grandchild in my arms, I will relax in the knowledge that they both have their own ideas, opinions and way of living their life. My only job is to support them in whatever they choose.



Friday, 4 September 2015

When the last child starts school . . .

When William started school I was bereft. He was growing up too quickly, five days a week was too much time to be apart and no-one would look after him the way I could. When Scarlett and I left him on his first day, I was crying, she was crying ("I want my brubber!") and we clung to each other like extras in a Made for TV melodrama.
And now she's going too.
I thought it might be easier second time around. She'll be going to the same school as William so I know the ropes. I know what uniform to buy, which playground to wait on and exactly what we can and can't put in their lunch boxes. I also know that, even if she finds it hard to settle, she will get there eventually and will make friends, enjoy learning and take part in as host of activities I couldn't hope to replicate at home.
But this time I’ll be walking away from the school gates on my own.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a big part of me looking forward to the two days a week I’ll have at home alone to get the shopping done and clean the house. (Sorry – Dan was standing behind me then. Obviously I meant read books and watch Escape to the Country.) But there is also another largish part which mourns for the time that Scarlett and I have had on our own these last two years. Drinking latte and babycino at Costa, trying on shoes and dresses we didn’t intend to buy, visiting friends on maternity leave and cuddling their babies.
There is the temptation to fill the gap with another baby. I've reached the age when my ovaries are chucking out my last remaining eggs in the style of me emptying the cupboard under the stairs and I think they must be triggering some ‘now or never’ hormone which makes me weep at the sight of newborns. Nevertheless, as I am pretty sure my parenting abilities wouldn’t extend to more children than I have hands, I have to accept that there will be no more babies in the house.
However many children you decide to have, there will always be a ‘last one’ and when that one goes to school, it signals the end of an era. High chairs and stair gates are a distant memory, pushchairs have been sold or given away and every time they climb on your lap for a cuddle, you hold them tightly knowing that, this too, will not last forever.
Many things are easier with a second child. Nappies, feeding, knowing how many spoonfuls of Calpol they can have in a day. But, as I look at the brand new pair of black patent shoes by the door, I find that the second time of the ‘First Day at School’ is no easier than the first. In fact, it is a lot more difficult.
On Monday, when she puts on that blue checked dress and goes into school, my heart will be bursting with pride, but it will be breaking a little too. I will be dropping off my baby and collecting my grown up girl.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ode to a Wet Wipe

I knew you helped to change a nappy
But now I know, I am so happy,
You’re there when OTHER things are crappy
Ready to weave your magic.
You clean my house in just a flash
When ‘round the furniture I dash
No need for water which could splash
(My other housework’s tragic.)
You clean my kids when I must hurry
No longer do I need to worry
If they are covered in McFlurry
There’s no mess that won’t suit you.
I could have saved a lot of strife
If sooner you’d been in my life
If I were male, you’d be my wife
Oh Wet Wipe – I salute you!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Call your mother; she worries.

My mum starts every phone call to my mobile with, "You're not driving are you?" before she will tell me what she's calling for. Before mobiles, when my sister and I walked to a friend's house, we would have to use their telephone to give her three rings to let her know we were there safely. If she heard an ambulance go by, you could see her do a quick physical and mental headcount to reassure herself it wasn't for us (we're both in our forties now and she still does this.) 

As my sister and I rolled our eyes at another of her 'worries' she would always say the same thing to us "You wait until you're a mother! You'll understand!"

And she was right. 

It began the minute we left the hospital and drove home as if we were balancing three dozen eggs on the car bonnet. Then I put our new baby in a crib beside my bed and spent half the night getting out of bed to check that he was still breathing. 

At the clinic when he was weighed, I held my breath to see if he had stayed 'on his line' on the graph in the red book. I filled a notebook with details of feed time/duration and nap time/duration in the vain hope it would give me some kind of important knowledge about this tiny creature for whom we were totally responsible. 

I kidded myself that it would be easier when he could do more but weaning brought a whole new raft of worries. I nearly divorced my husband when he put a rusk in William's hand at 5 months old. I then hovered over him for the next 30 minutes fully prepared to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre. (On William, not my unrepentant husband.)  

Apparently, this never ends. I've heard frequently the mantra, "Small children, small worries; bigger children, bigger worries." and, whilst I don't think it's wholly true, I do know that the worrying doesn't stop. As my mum says, "You still worry about your baby when she's all grown up and having her own babies." 

At least I understand now when my mum wants me to reassure her that we've reached our holiday destination safely, that I've been to the doctors to check out some minor ailment or that I am 'being careful' when I go out for a drink with my (also in their forties) friends. When I feel my eyes begin to roll at her, I remember the gut wrenching feeling I had when William rolled off the sofa at a friend's house. She was absolutely right; now that I'm a mother, I do understand.  I also understand now that the worry springs from a deep, deep well of maternal love for which I am very, very grateful. 

So, here I am, resigned to existing on a sliding scale from mild concern to utter panic for the rest of my life. Fortunately I have a very pragmatic husband who talks me down from red alert when needed. Hopefully his calm and balanced nature will help me during the teenage years when they are out in the world alone and I have to worry from a distance. 

Is that an ambulance I can hear? 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Hide and Seek

I'm sitting in a cupboard which is underneath my stairs.

Hidden behind the camping gear so they don't know I’m there.

In the past, when they were small, I had to be quite nifty.

But I've much more time to hide myself now they've learned to count to fifty.

Of course they were the first to hide, whilst I counted slow and steady.

Managing to make a drink to their repeated shout “We’re ready!”

With mug in hand I answered them, “I’m coming, ready or not!”

And closed my ears to the giggles which give away their spot.

Wandering around the house and acting so uncertain.

Pretending that I couldn't see their feet beneath the curtain.

Lasting out the "seeking" stage as long as I could fake it.

The silence was so pleasurable, I was loathe to ‘find’ and break it.

Eventually they called out "Mummy, would you like a clue?"

"We’re hiding in the wardrobe at the bottom with your shoes."

So now it’s me they’re looking for and I’ve hid myself so well,

It’s given me some alone time whilst they’re out there raising hell.

(I even left some biscuits on the table in the hall.

Hoping they’d be distracted and forget to look at all.)

But I haven't got much longer, I can hear their patience dwindle.

So I quickly try to read just two more pages on my Kindle. 

Their footsteps thunder nearer and in moments I’m discovered.

Slowly I uncurl myself and crawl out from the cupboard.

Then, before they run to hide again, I catch my little scions,

And suggest that next we play a lengthy game of sleeping lions.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Lies We Tell

"I've been looking for that! It must have fallen in there by mistake!" I cried, when William found his latest drawing in the recycling bin. That was the moment I realized how good I've gotten at barefaced lying since having children.

It’s not just the expected parental untruths either. I expected I’d end up saying that carrots help you to see in the dark and crusts make your hair curly. What I didn’t expect was how good I would get at lying on the hoof. "No! Of course I'm not taking that bag of toys to the charity shop. I was just gathering them together so that I could put them somewhere safe."

I’ve heard it said that the Queen thinks the world smells of wet paint as everywhere she visits has just been redecorated in her honour. In the same way, my children think the world is full of children’s rides which are out of order, sweet shops which are closed and ice cream vans which have run out of ice cream.

Then there is the Father Christmas/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy lie. Now, before you strike me from your Christmas Card List, I am not suggesting we tell the truth about our imaginary friends a moment before we need to (although I wouldn't mind getting a little credit for the hours I spend looking for good stocking presents.) However, the lengths some of us go to in order to perpetuate these magical myths (footprints in flour, scraps of torn red cloth in the door jamb, ‘dropped’ gifts on the lawn etc.) are on a level of subterfuge of which the CIA would be proud. 

Research tells me that I should not be lying to them at all, but my parents told me the odd tall story as a child and I still trust them now. When we were young, my sister and I were given a dead (smelly) seahorse by an old couple who had found it washed up on a beach in Cornwall. By the time we arrived home from our holiday, the seahorse had magically disappeared from the boot of my parents’ car, allegedly to seahorse heaven. Surely this was a far more palatable story than the truth of him being rudely ejected by my dad somewhere along the M4?

Sometimes the truth is just too tricky. When we lost my dad last year, William (aged 4) was very upset at the prospect that, one day, he would lose me too. I lied that I had fixed it so that he and I would live forever. Although child psychologists would gasp in horror and tell me that I should have met his questions head on with gentle, considered explanations, I just didn’t have it in me. My instinctive lie was what he, and I, needed to hear right then. 

Therefore, whilst I will endeavour to be truthful as often as possible, I am not going to feel guilty about the odd fib. As they get older, the important subjects will be discussed and the less important, such as what really happened to William’s ridiculously large collection of pinecones, will be remembered as family myth.





Sunday, 14 June 2015


There's a side effect to motherhood that no-one tells you about and that is all the crying. Not the baby. You. 

Sure, you expect to get weepy and emotional when you're pregnant. It's the damn hormones. 'They' even warn you to expect the 'baby blues' to cause unpredictable weeping a few days after the baby is born as these same hormones settle back down. I was still in hospital at this stage, hobbling around after a C-Section, struggling with breast feeding and wracked with guilt that my newborn had to be wheeled away for antibiotics twice a day. (I'm not sure why I felt that it was my fault, but I did.) I cried so much that week I'm surprised I wasn't treated for dehydration. 

However, that's not the crying I'm talking about. It's the other sort, the crying that creeps up on you when you're not expecting it. 

I'm not saying I was a tough cookie before having children. I cried watching ET like most people. Hard hitting stories on Children in Need and Comic Relief would leave me in a mess. But I didn't cry at 30 second TV adverts like I do now. 

Even happy stories involving people I don't know can get me started. My husband doesn't understand when I cry at the sight of someone winning a race or performing a song. He looks at me in disbelief. "Are you crying at THIS?" he asks. I nod and sob, "I'm just thinking how proud their mum must be!"

At each stage of my children's development there seem to be fresh opportunities for my tear ducts to kick into overdrive. The first time I tried to strap the baby seat into the car on my own I made a complete hash of it and spent the next 20 minutes wailing that I would never get the hang of it and would end up a prisoner in my own home. (The drama has always been there; just the tears are new.) 

I cried when I realised that breast feeding was going to be difficult to get the hang of (although, in my defence, part of that was actual physical pain) and then I cried again when, a year later, the breastfeeding stopped. I wept when the purées I had spent hours cooking and mashing were refused or spat out; despite everyone telling me that a 'baby won't starve itself' I was terrified that mine might be the first recorded case. And don't get me started on the first time the boy said "Mummy." 

When William started school, I tried to prepare myself. I was determined to keep a happy smiling face as I waved at him from the school gates. I was doing really well until we turned to go and a two year old Scarlett started to cry, "I want my brubber!" Clutching her to me like an extra in made-for-TV film, I cried, "I want him too!" 

It's beginning to dawn on me that this is not a temporary state. Becoming a parent has scratched the surface of my heart and it's beyond repair. Before me, I see a life of waterproof mascara and handy packs of tissues. My children will see every milestone greeted by a blubbering mother. I am prepared to be a complete embarrassment as they learn to ride a bike, star in the school play, graduate from university. 

However, it’s not all bad news. According to popular science, the fact that we cry is one of the reasons women live longer. Which means, with the frequency of my sobs, that I'll probably be around, still crying, by the time I have great great grandchildren.  



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Parent's Advice

Find something that you love to do and do it every day.
Be well informed and interesting, have worthwhile things to say. 

Try to keep your focus, concentrate on every task.
And if you've tried your very best, that's all anyone can ask.

Seek advice when you are lost, watch how others take their turn. 
But don't be scared to take a chance, mistakes are how you learn. 

Chase those who run in front of you, whilst encouraging those behind.
When deciding how to act or speak, think always "Is it kind?"

Speak out against injustice and protect those who are weak. 
Hold your tongue when angry, in case cruel words you speak

Don't let anyone tell you that there's something you can't do. 
For everything is in your grasp, the one who decides is you. 

Be loyal to those who love you whilst you also make new friends.  
And if you hurt somebody, you must always make amends. 

Not everything comes easily, sometimes you just can't win. 
But the only time you really lose is when you throw it in. 

No-one likes to hear you boast that you're the best on Earth. 
But be proud of your accomplishments and always know your worth. 

Be bold and brave and try things new; don't ever live in fear. 
For if you fail and things go wrong, I'll always be right here. 

Fly far and high and wide and deep, the world is yours to roam.
Remember forever you are loved and here you'll have a home.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Laser Tag: Mummy goes to war

It was with some reluctance that I took William to Laser Quest last Saturday. For the uninitiated, this involves running around in a dark room, attempting to ‘shoot’ other people with a laser gun whilst avoiding them hitting the target on your vest. Usually the husband plays wingman to our boy's cannon fodder approach to battle ("Hello! I'm William. Oh, I'm shot again.") But this time he decided he wanted mummy to go.

We paid for two games and the first was surprisingly civilised. Apart from William and I, there was one other family, therefore we had lots of space and time to trot around. I even managed to get a few shots on target. (Admittedly, this was made easier because the other family included a teenage girl who had obviously been coerced into joining her mum and two small brothers. She was an easy target as she didn't even bother to raise her gun the whole time she was in there.) 

For our second game, we were joined by three other families. With dads. Suddenly everything changed; there were tactics, positions and battle formations. Us amateurs had no chance, no sooner had I recovered from one hit (you had to wait four seconds after being hit before your gun was active again) before I was hit and immobilised again. Sometimes I couldn't even see where it came from. Put it this way, should there be an alien/zombie attack, I'll be one of the first to bite the dust. 

However, this new seriousness was infectious. I found myself hiding behind walls and firing through windows like a wannabe Charlie's angel. I even took advantage of William's propensity to run headlong into enemy fire by hanging back and picking off the small soldiers firing at him one by one. At one point I heard someone shout "Down! Down!" at my teammates - then realised it was me. 

All in all, the boy and I had a great time together. Normally I'm a poor substitute for daddy in games of war, but something about the heavy vest, large gun and surrounding darkness brought out a whole new side to me. Quite a turnaround for a mother who declared her newborn son would never be allowed to play with guns. 

I'm not getting too smug about my performance, though. After the game, I asked William who had been better to play laser tag with, me or daddy? 

 "You." He said. "Because I can beat you on points more easily."