Aimee Horton

When it’s the end of the school year.

Jul
23

I know I was stepping back from my blog, but I couldn’t let today go by unmarked.  Why? Because today is The Beasts last day at school before the six week summer holidays.

I have mixed feelings, I’m sad, after all, Reception is such a special year, and I feel very lucky about how happily he’s settled, I’m dreading it – I have to spend six weeks arguing with him, and I’m proud, after all, we’ve all survived the transition from nursery “fling them through the door, dressed and they do all the rest” to Primary School “deliver them with a full stomach and a bag containing completed homework”.

From the first day I dropped him off, small and tiny in shorts which could have passed as cropped trousers a new way of life kicked in.  I didn’t feel sad until day 3 when he walked into the classroom without looking back, suddenly I felt a bit redundant, a bit needy. Don’t worry it didn’t last long.

Looking Small

It’s been a learning curve that’s for sure, one that I must admit I hadn’t expected.  I’m totally honest when I say I went into school naively, I looked at it as five days of free childcare even if it did end earlier then I needed, however I’ve learnt an awful lot.

I’ve learnt that actually I can be quite creative.  This year I have made dressing up costumes, collages (I USED GLUE WITH MY CHILD), I’ve made spiders webs, I’ve hunted for bugs, I have tadpoles still bloody growing in my cake tin (I thought it took like a few weeks, we’re on MONTHs right now).  Also, don’t you DARE tell anybody but I’ve actually quite enjoyed it.

I’ve learnt that I have two different four year olds. That’s right. There’s Spider-Man.  Leaping, jumping, climbing the walls, refusing to pick up a pen or pencil, can’t sit still for two seconds or play on his own for a minute.  That one answers back, tells me I’m no longer his best friend.  Then there’s the one that sits quietly, doesn’t really do role play, doesn’t shout or climb the walls and when you say “has he been good?” the response is always “as always”.  I seem to have the dud at home, because he’s not very nice right now.

I’ve learnt that I’m not cut out to be a teacher. SERIOUSLY how do they do it? On the times we sit down and do homework it was a high probability that I would end up in tears, usually mine.  The lack of focus, the lack of buy in, the amount of bribes “if you write this sentence tonight you can have lemonade with your dinner”, there are so many times I’ve just wanted to shout “S JUST WRITE S, SERIOUSLY JUST WRITE THE LETTER S” (I may have also shouted at times), before stalking out of the room to go and sniff the bottle of gin.  As with the creative side of things, Homework has brought out my competitive edge, especially as The Beast’s commitment to writing isn’t his best.  Therefore I have learnt to mount everything to make up for his short comings, and through the year have worked my way through about three pritt-sticks.

I have learnt that it is probably the shortest day in the world. Seriously by the time you’ve had a two hour natter at the school gates, got in the car, come home and cleared up the carnage I might as well just turn around and go and pick him up.

And that leads me to the school run.  I can’t believe I’m saying this but it’s not actually that bad.  YES the dragging myself out of bed, and firing orders (which I have to repeat 50 million times “WHY ARE YOUR SHOES STILL NOT ON DO IT DO IT DO IT”) side of things is a bit of a pain, and so is the general hyper-ness and bickering. Usually in the car I can drown it out, being the only one who sings along to the jolly phonics CD (my personal fave is Inky, what’s yours?).  But, once I’ve found somewhere to abandon my car (I suddenly understand why you have to reverse your car around a corner in your driving test – I am now quite good at reversing), I get to natter to a few people, you know, ADULT conversation.  But then, I’m still remembering the last few weeks, where the sun is shining, and everyone is happy, I’ve blocked out the cold COLD COLD winter, where it’s minus gazzillion degrees, the beating rain, and the meltdowns.  The meltdowns from The Chunky Monkey.  Wants to be in his pushchair, doesn’t want to be in his pushchair, he wants to be in the carseat no, no he doesn’t actually, before he hammers on the classroom door demanding to be let in to see the “wabbit”.  I’m forgetting that most days I have to discreetly replace certain items from the playground which The Chunky Monkey has smuggled into my car, secretly disappointed that it wasn’t jewellery or money.

I’ve also learnt that all of a sudden I know a lot more people.  Which in turn means I bump into a lot more people who can witness my lack of control on my children.  Teachers catch me wagging my fingers and making threats,  catching me at the end of my tether in the queue in a shop where I’m responding with my usual mature version of “I can too come to your party, after all I’m paying for it”, or see me tucking The Chunky Monkey under my arms as he kicks and screams because he was trying to steal a saw from a DIY store.

I’ve learnt that nothing is sacred, that he stretches the truth, and then tells his teachers.  His current teacher thinks that I “forget” to go shopping so he has to have spaghetti hoops, let him play in the road on his own, and walk about with him upside down.

I’ve learnt that logo polo shirts do not wash well.  That my son feels inclined to get the marker pens and paints out when he’s wearing them, and even the ones without the big green and black marks on them, have washed a sludgy grey, whereas the three for £2 ones from Sainsbogs are still pristine and white.  That school shoes get scuffed (and only start at about a size 7, he’s still as size 6), that knees get bloody, sleeves get snotty, pants get skiddies, and waterbottles always leak when there’s something important in the bag.

Last Day

But most importantly, I’ve learnt how much my boy has grown and developed because of the influence from both his peers and teachers, I feel lucky that he has a great group of friends, and that his first  teachers have been amazing. The teachers especially have been a huge part of his development helping him grow, giving him confidence, a sense of pride whilst helping him to assert himself (great, thanks for that), to speak out, and be his own person, and for this am grateful,  proud, and a little bit emotional.

thankyou_theo

Here’s to Year One.  Maybe they’ll have built boarding facilities by then.

When you have a photo shoot.

May
18

So. Did you get The Guardian today then?

You know where you flick to the life-style page, and there’s that harassed round faced woman and two children being photographed talking about “Sharents”?  Yeah..that’s me. I KNOW!  You’ve finally seen a photograph of me that hasn’t been doctored by one of the many flattering filters on Instagram, and it’s not pretty.

I spoke to Nione just over a month ago, in the Easter holidays, and it actually turned out to be a really interesting exercise reminding me why I enjoy my blog so much, and what I want to get out of it – laughter.  It’s also what I wanted to achieve when I wrote my book.  But that’s another story all together.  During the conversation Nione asked if I’d be up for having a photograph done, and whilst I hate having my photo taken, I thought “why not”.  So I agreed wondering if there was a way of finding some cheek bones before the photographer came ’round.

As you can see there wasn’t.

On the Thursday I got the call asking if they were ok to come and take my picture on the Tuesday..“of course” I gulped…then they uttered those immortal words “and the children”.  I quickly responded with “are you sure” and they were quite sure.  After all, the piece is about THEM really, everything is.

On the Friday a parcel arrived from PartyDelights.co.uk containing a Captain America costume for The Beast.  Unfortunately due to an answering back incident and a strop which included throwing a cherry tomato across the room at tea time (him not me), his rocket went down to earth with a lecture, and the surprise was put away until the next time he got onto the star…which happened to be Monday.

To say he was happy was an understatement, and we were all very happy.  I mean, look at his face.

Captain America

The next day was THE SHOOT.  I think I cleaned more than when my mother comes to visit, ensuring that the laundry was shoved into the wardrobe in our bedroom so I looked like I was at least slightly in control.  I demanded Mr Aimee come home to help assert some authority over the children, after all, the photographer had called the night before to confirm times and my address, this would have been fine if he hadn’t heard the screaming of “NOOOOOO MUMMMAYYYYYYY NOOOOOOOOOOOOO” followed by the sound of a bowl of soup being flung to the floor in rage because I’d put the bread in it instead of next to it, so I had a feeling he was probably dreading the situation more than I was.

He turned up just as I parked the car from the school run, and witnessed The Chunky Monkey attempting to break into a neighbours car, and The Beast tearing inside, removing his school uniform and promptly appearing in his Captain America suit…not the Ava and Luc top I’d laid out ready.  After a few quietly uttered words we agreed he could wear the suit, just not the mask.  In my mind, I was relieved that The Chunky Monkey was wearing his Bat-Man top and regretting that I wasn’t wearing my cool superhero leggings.

We decided on the location of the shoot (sofa in the kitchen), and he set up his lights, I could tell whilst he mentioned he was worried for the safety of the kids and them tripping over the wires, he was worried for the safety of his equipment – I was too.

It was over in a fifteen minutes, however, in that time Captain America mainly looked dumb, Fat-Man kept licking my face, and I was sitting their thinking “there is no way he is getting my good side”.  Mr Aimee tried his hardest to entertain The Chunky Monkey with counting and pretending to throw a football.

Then he was gone.

The children went into the garden and I leant against the kitchen counter and poured myself a gin.

Just over three weeks later and it feels like a distant dream, and as I look back at that alien face in the paper (I DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT IN THE MIRROR I SWEAR), all I can help thinking is “I wish they’d used photoshop”.

Pass The Gin.

p.s. If you’re from The Guardian and DID use Photoshop on the photo, please don’t tell me, because that’s even more depressing.

PartyDelights.co.uk were kind enough to send The Beast a Captain America costume after reading my recent Superhero blog post.  He loves it, it washes really well (3 times so far), and is often carried about in my car for emergencies.  

When you visit the Supermarket

May
07

I LOVE supermarket shopping.  No. Really.  I’m not being sarcastic at all.  I love it.  While everyone else was flapping about doing the Christmas food shop I couldn’t believe my luck when Mr Aimee ducked out and offered me the chance to go to The ‘Trose ON MY OWN in the EVENING.  I snapped his hand off, picked the kids up from school, threw them at him through the front door and was off, my printed off excel document print out in hand.

I grabbed my trolley and walked through the automatic doors pausing to sweep up recpie cards and take in the smell of the cafe (our Waitrose is the only supermarket on earth I know that doesn’t pump fresh bread into the foyer), and I was off.  Whilst everyone seemed to be in a rush and a panic, I sailed down the aisles pausing to look at everything that there was to offer.  I returned home two hours later with a significant dint in the Christmas budget and slightly ruffled, mumbling something about the twinkling light up Kleenex tissue boxes being on a BOGOF.

And this is why I’m not usually allowed to venture into the supermarket on my own very often.

Sadly, it really doesn’t happen very often these days.  I am usually escorted by my entourage, all with their special stop-spending-super-powers.  I have Super Scrimper – with his “HOW MUCH?” and “What do we need this for?” whilst looking stressed, anxious to get the the alcohol aisle (thanks for that, local Morrisons btw – having the booze at the beginning means I rarely make it past the salad and crisps before I’m ushered to the tills).  Every item I pick up is frowned at, before he nips off to the shelf to check if there’s an equivalent product for 20p.

Following closely behind is Super-Wanter.  The four year old who is unable to walk around the supermarket, but hates being sat in the trolley next to his brother. Grudgingly he takes up position in the trolley, his super sonic eyes flicking around, taking in everything whilst he inhales a packet of raisins.  “I want that” is repeated frequently.  Whether he’s motioning to a Spider-Man toy, a giant bar of Dairy Milk, a book, or randomly a solar light hedgehog.  He also makes tactful remarks such as “Look at the massive wheels on his wheel chair, do you think he’s in that because he crossed the road without looking left and right?”“Gosh. That man is very fat – perhaps he should buy some bigger high-up sleeve tops”. “I’m BOREEEDDD mummy, this is BORRINGGG…OI GET OFFF MEEEE…MUMMYYYYYY HE’S LOOKING AT ME…MAKE HIM STOP LOOKING AT ME”.  The first few comments I can cope with, the embarrassment of the innocent insults to the general public..well…perhaps SHE should have bought some bigger t.shirts (that’s right. She).  But I know that I’m on a clock when he’s having an issue with his brother LOOKING at him.

Then we have Super-Loud.  Nothing is quiet, from the second we enter the shop he can be heard.  If we’ve managed to find a trolley outside he’s wailing because he wants to walk, and if we’ve just found one, he is screaming “NOOO MUMMYYY NOOOOOO” In that way that causes people to turn around and witness you karate chop the back of his knees so he buckles and falls into the seat.  They consider calling the Social Services, but realise that sadly, while they wait for them to appear on a Saturday afternoon, they will probably have to look after the child in question, and nobody wants to deal with the trail of snot that’s worked its way down his face and is slowly dripping from his chin onto his mucky jeans knees (do they not clean supermarket floors? My children end up being filthy, gathering black muck on their clothes, while they’re lying there kicking and screaming).  After removing the packet of raisins he’s thrown in my hair he slowly calms down and is pacified with some Mini Cheddars.

This is when he usually spots the numbers.

Suddenly Super-Loud is in his element, causing a competitive number shout off between him and Super-Wanter.  “FOUR” “ELEBEN” “SEBEN” “LOOOK MUMMYYYY NINBTEEN”.  That’s not the snot causing him to talk with a B, he pronounces all the numbers with a “B” in the middle rather than a “V”.  As I’m hurrying through the shop the aisle numbers are pointed out to me in glee, both seeing who can spot the next number first.  My thoughts are becoming muddled – have you ever tried trying to work out which spice you need whilst having various things barked at you continuously until you respond.  It’s not just the aisles aisles, every price is spotted “LOOK MUMMYY EIGHT EIGHT…” Yes, that’s right, you’re reaching to grab an £8 bottle of wine to cuddle.  For a child so against fruit you sure as hell don’t mind carrying a delicate bottle of wine about whenever you get to the supermarket.  By the wine aisle Super-Wanter is sitting in silence. Sulking because he’s spotted a spiderman gob stopper which I refuse to let him have.  Sullen he glares in disgust at the snotty brother still enjoying the game.

Then I make the mistake of having to double back.  I’ve forgotten something.  Usually cherry tomatoes.  Aisle number four at Saisbogs. Just so you know.  Which means I am treated to backwards counting, I feel as if the clock is ticking “MUMMY TEN-NINE-EIGHT-SEBEN-SIX…”

I shove the trolley in Super-Scimpers direction and order him to a till, “I’ll meet you there” I say, grabbing additional bottles of tonic water and wine that’s at the end of the aisle, stopping for an extra lime.  

We don’t need to discuss where to meet, the foghorn in place ensures we never lose each other (dammit).

The tills is the really tricky bit.  There’s no room to spin the trolley ’round.  There are no distractions.  Super-Loud is hugging Super-Wanter.  Big Mistake. Neither children make small talk with the checkout girl, who starts to coo then takes one look at them and decides better of it, firing the contents of the trolley down the conveyer belt at double the speed packing some bits of me to get us out of her face as quickly as possible.

We tumble out of the shop and into the car, vowing to do online shopping and have it delivered to the house from now on.  During school hours.

Pass the gin.