Googly Eyes

I never had books by Julia Donaldson in my house before Bear. It wasn’t personal. I’d just never heard of her. Within a very short time, I knew a number of them by heart and now I can’t imagine life without them. Similarly googly eyes. What would I have done with them before Bear? Maybe put them in pairs on the walls to make Mr. Invisible and I look popular? Like pancake ingredients, they are now firmly established as something I can’t run out of unless I want to be classed as a ‘bad mummy.’

For the past few days, Bear has been rescuing empty bottles to upcycle into weird creatures. He has found tissue paper, bits of card, feathers, paint and glue from our craft supplies and got on with it by himself. Halfway through the second bottle creature, disaster struck. No googly eyes!

After a good rummage in (yet another) box of collage and craft stuff I found a few and saved the day. Phew! Bear celebrated by making a couple of red tissue paper creatures. In the meantime I added googly eyes to my shopping list. You can’t have too many!

Lessons in Humility

Bear lost his first tooth today. He hits all of his milestones before I’m ready. Whether it’s toilet training, leaving him to play at a friend’s house or starting school, he’s always up for whatever it is long before I’m ready to let go. Not that he knows that of course. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling his fun, or getting in the way. Whatever it is, my approach is the same: provide moral support and do a bit of clearing up.

This tooth business is something special. At the school gates this afternoon, I was trying to establish the going rates for the tooth fairy. It seems to be a pound, or even two per tooth. How does she carry those heavy coins!  Times have certainly changed. It was a sixpence when I started losing teeth. He’s written a note for her and put it under his pillow. ‘I have lost a tooth. I don’t have it.’

Bear said he wants to save all the money he gets from the tooth fairy to buy a present for me, which Mr. Invisible can help him choose. Lessons in humility from a five year old. I’m humbled. I feel ready for this one, just unprepared. There’s a difference.

The Right Thing for Dad

Sometimes I wonder whether we’re doing the right thing for Dad. Would he get better care somewhere with properly trained people available 24×7? Our home doesn’t automatically accommodate his changing needs. It takes time. If he’s in pain it can take us a while to get the right help. We can’t be with him every second of every minute of every day. Even when we’re at home, we might be helping Bear with homework, making food, halfway upstairs with a pile of washing, or in the shower.

This afternoon I was sitting with Dad. He knows he’s dependent on us. He thought it must be difficult. It’s hard to explain but it’s a bit like bringing Bear home for the first time. I wasn’t trained or qualified, but I knew instinctively how I wanted to care for him. Mr. Invisible and I made up the details as we went along but basically we didn’t want him to cry or be distressed. It’s the same with Dad. I’d rather he was in our home with people who not only love him but know him. He wants to be here too. So I guess we are doing the right thing for Dad. At least for now. But it doesn’t do any harm to keep asking. Just to make sure.

Paralympic Tarts

After Olympic-fever comes Olympic-fatigue and then more Olympic-fever. I don’t know whether it was Team GB starting to win things, Bear being so excited by the whole thing or actually going to the Olympic Park and Stadium, but as the Olympics wore on I became totally involved. It stopped being about ticketing fiascos, cynical sponsors and ‘security’ and started being about the people it should have been about all the way through. The people who have given their lives for at least the past few years to achieving Olympic success. Then strange things were happening in our household. I was listening to 5-Live instead my usual Radio 4. I was the one switching on the telly to catch up with the day’s events and I was totally up-to-date with the medal table. (I didn’t manage to find out anything about Handball, but Rome wasn’t built in a day!)

So the Olympics was basically a load of athletes doing things that I can do, just fitter stronger and faster. I can run, ride a bike, swim and throw things! They just did it a whole lot better than I could. But the Paralympics is a totally different ball game. I need my own legs to run. I would drown with a missing limb. The idea of playing football without being able to see the ball is frankly terrifying. I will be watching athletes performing feats that are above and beyond my everyday ideas for what is possible. I can’t wait to have my mind stretched. Mr. Invisible, Bear and I have tickets for 5-a-side football and swimming. The Olympics was just to get the party started. This is the real event. We are going to be total Paralympic tarts!


After Olympic-Fever comes Olympic-Fatigue. Yep! I’ve officially had enough of the Olympics. I thought we might watch a highlights programme at the end of each day and perhaps listen to a few events on the radio. But no,  that’s not enough for my lot. All day every day, our telly has been tuned in to one or other of the BBC’s twenty four (yes twenty four!) Olympic channels. I’m a ‘telly for half an hour before bed and definitely not during the day’ sort of person so my stress levels are on the ceiling.

Time for some recovery. Dad wanted a bit of a lie in this morning so I made myself a gorgeous fresh coffee and whipped up some hot milk. I even made a cheerful heart pattern on top. Of course it went cold before I had the chance to drink it. Dad insisted on coming straight downstairs after his shower and then gave us a really hard time because it was too much effort for him. Then there was pandemonium while Bear and Mr. Invisible got themselves ready to go out. They are trekking across to Surrey to watch the Cycling Time Trials. Right now the house is peaceful. Dad is snoozing on the sofa. Dogford is at my feet and Catford is mincing about, but in an undemanding manner. I might even make myself another coffee and actually drink it this time.

Maybe by the time Bear and Mr. Invisible get back, I’ll be sufficiently recovered to do it all over again.

Oops! Actually that was yesterday and I was so exhausted when they got in, I forgot to post!!

Smaller World

It’s almost a week since my last post. And what a week! We had a holiday club for children (I was a volunteer), the Olympic Opening Ceremony (I was transfixed) and a Family Fun Day today (I was doing too many things!) It’s a struggle to do all this stuff with Dad. He was at Auntie’s until Thursday evening, and I was already done in! I should be getting up-to-date on my own jobs and re-charging my batteries a bit when he’s at Auntie’s. But this time last year he was walking to places and playing cricket with the kids, so I can hardly blame myself for having said yes to stuff. Without Mr. Invisible I couldn’t have done it. He helped Dad with the morning routine yesterday while I was at holiday club and again this morning when I was setting up the Fun Day. I think my world needs to shrink a bit.

Dad and Bear and I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics last night. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we have been waiting years for it. Just as the seven young athletes were in position to light the copper petals, which would combine to form the Olympic cauldron, Dad decided he needed the loo. Between the walking frame and the stairlift, I managed to get the gist of what was happening. And in the modern age, there are plenty of opportunities to see it again. So remind me, why did I stay up for it? That it’s all happening just along the road might have something to do with it. I’ve never taken any notice of the Olympics before, but now I’ve got Olympic-coloured nails and am well on the way to getting the total fever! Actually I love it. I love the hype, the atmosphere, I love that Bear is so engaged with it. I love that I can’t go anywhere without seeing an Olympic cycling team in training or an Olympic volunteer on the way home from a shift.

Anyway, Bear is in my bed now. He woke up an hour ago wet with perspiration, hiding under the covers from the monsters. Where these monsters have come from I don’t know, but they are real to him. Mummy’s bed with the lamp on is the best place. Monsters wouldn’t dare go into Mummy’s room and they are definitely scared of the light. I hope he’s still there when I go to bed. I’m happy for my world to get smaller if I get to look after Dad, give Mr. Invisible a break and enjoy Bear.


I enjoyed my weekend in Ireland. It’s just that I’m pleased to be back. Bear and Mr. Invisible had a fabulous time. I could tell by the state of the house and the lack of clean laundry! I missed them, but I’m glad we did it. I needed to go away to feel grounded again. In the busyness of life it’s easy to lose track of the things that matter. It’s taken me a couple of days and I still haven’t caught up with my jobs, but I’m properly home now.

Mr. Invisible met me at the airport on Sunday night. That’s the start of homecoming. (I love being met from airports.) Next thing ticked off was the red bus. Even when I was at university, my muscles started to relax when I saw my first red bus on homecoming. It’s a bit like the first sip of wine on a summer evening. Indoors, I made Dogford wait while I looked at Bear sleeping soundly in the ‘pea on a fork’ position. He looked huge. He can’t have grown 15 cm in a weekend, so I guess I imagine him as a smaller bear than he really is. Then I let Dogford welcome me properly. Even Lady Catford condescended to be stroked (on her own terms of course!)

Bear’s face lit up when he came into my room on Monday morning. Make no mistake. He had a fantastic weekend, he was bubbling about it and wanted to tell me everything! We were only just on time for school. Walking home through the park after dropping him, I felt the most amazing sense of peace. I felt it again on the the flats this morning. It didn’t rain today (newsworthy!), but there is so much water. The flats are incredibly marshy. Dogford was splashing and generally being a dog. There were the most gorgeous water lillies in the lake. Gentle. There are many beautiful places in the world and lovely people everywhere, but nothing that comes close to home. I’m more certain than ever that it’s my life I’m living, the one I’m supposed to have.

Pardon the Pun

Bear’s laughter is my favourite sound in the whole world. Before he was born, it was Mr. Invisible’s laughter, so I guess that’s now my second favourite. (Please don’t tell him he’s been relegated, although I suspect he already knows!)

Bear comes into my bed every morning for a tickle. My day is never quite right if it hasn’t been started by the tinkling of his laughter. As he gets older I’m going to have to become more sophisticated to extract my favourite sound. Right now, he likes the usual toilet humour (that girls grow out of at some point.) He laughs at magicians and Mike burping in Monsters Inc and Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. He even has a favourite joke.

Q: ‘Why did the cow cross the road?’  A: ‘Because he wanted to go to the MOOvies!’

Mr. Invisible and I have to laugh every time. He’s taken a while to come up with his own though. His first, a couple of years ago now was, ‘Knock knock.’ ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Mr. Coffee. (pause) Go on laugh!’

He’s just moved onto the next level. Wearing his firefighter outfit earlier, he held up his toy drill and said, ‘Fire….. Drill!’

Mr. Invisible was thrilled to bits with his protégé and I’d like to suggest an amendment to the definition of a good pun. If it’s one you made up yourself, I’d like to add unless you’re under six years old, in which case it’s charming!

For the love of a teddy

Bear came out of school on Friday clutching a very large blue bag. I didn’t need to ask what was in it. He was jumping up and down and the joy spread across his face left no room for doubt. It was finally his turn to bring home the class teddy for the weekend. Each week he has been disappointed that it wasn’t his turn – again! It’s very difficult to explain to a five-year-old that there are twenty nine other five-year-olds who want the same thing and they can’t all have it at the same time.

I’m ashamed to say that I was far from delighted to see his quarry. We had a busy weekend planned and I couldn’t see how we were going to fit in the necessary photographing, printing and writing in teddy’s book. When we got home and read about teddy’s adventures, I was even more despondent. I couldn’t help feeling that after all those children’s tea parties and days out, teddy might be in need of a stiff drink too!

Teddy has been included in all of Bear’s games, he’s been to the school summer fayre, had stories read to him, been cuddled and loved. This evening teddy finally settled down for his last night with us. Bear was distraught. I have spent most of the evening trying to console him and take away some of the fear. ‘I won’t ever see him again.’,’What will happen to teddy at the end of the school year?’ ‘If he goes up with the class next year and every year after that, what will happen to him when the children all move on to different schools?’ Every time I thought he was settled he would start to cry again. When he said, ‘I don’t see how I can ever be happy again,’ I lifted him out of his bed and into mine. There’s no place on the planet that soothes heartache as well as mummy’s bed. Tomorrow we have to return teddy to school. We may even have tears. But I know for certain that he will be happy again. As Mr. Invisible says, he’s never far from a giggle.

The Icing on my Cake

The iced biscuits are ready for the school summer fayre tomorrow and so is Bear. Mr. Invisible thinks that iced biscuits aren’t commercially viable and I’m sure he’s right. It takes ages (even though they end up looking very homemade) and they’ll sell for a song. If it was about the money, I’d donate the cost of the ingredients. But it’s so much more than that. The whole school is really buzzzzzing about the summer fayre. Today was a non-uniform day so each child could bring something for the tombola (mostly booze – it’s my kinda school!) and Bear is asking for a ‘Summer Fayre Helper’ sticker so he can help out at our stall. He’ll change his mind when he sees the side shows and the bouncy castle. I’m excited too now and if I happen to see a small fist or two clutching brightly-coloured vaguely flowery biscuits, it’ll be the icing on my cake!