Play It Again Mam…

We don‘t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw

Over the past 4 months, playing has changed.

Our kids went from playing every day with a variety of other kids, enjoying all sorts of games and having all sorts of fun, to playing at home with the same person or people.

On a typical day, my eldest daughter would have gone from playing with the bus kids, to playing with her classmates in the classroom, to playing with other kids in the playground, to playing with whoever was in afterschool, to playing with her sister at home.

On other days, add in the kids she played with at her drama/gymnastics/dance class and maybe even a play with cousins at the weekend…

It was Play Central really.

Rediscovering the simple pleasures…

But isn’t that what childhood IS? Learning to make sense of the world through play and interaction?

The novelty of playing at home was great for a few weeks. And of course, my girls were so lucky to have each other. For every scrap or fight, there were hours of games and being best buddies. It helped.

It helped both them and us.

They spent most of lockdown outside in the garden. Swings, huts, dens, make believe adventures, talking to the cows in the field… I watched them living my 80s childhood, (with the added bonus of more than 4 TV channels and Disney Plus in the evening.)

I did have to stock up on lego and playdoh and crayons after about 7 weeks… but I didn’t mind. I like that they played so much with these.

It was lovely mostly. And the reality that our previously far-too-busy lives had been denying them such simple pleasures was not lost on me.

But they, like ALL children, got to the point where they missed their wee friends. Mini-Me took part in maybe five Wattsapp calls over the few months we were at home. She was so excited by them and so glad to see her wee friends, but in the final few weeks, didn’t really want to take part.

On the last call she had with one of her wee pals, she was so quiet that we thought the call had ended. When her Daddy looked into the room, she was sitting at her desk, colouring, with the phone set up beside her. Her friend was playing with her dolls on the screen. They weren’t really talking.

When Himself asked what they were doing, she looked at him as if he were stupid and answered, “We’re playing together.”

Simple. They aren’t grown ups who thrive on conversation and empathy. They aren’t teenagers who need laughs and craic and affirmation. They don’t yet know that they need conversation or companionship.

They simply wanted to play. Together.

That broke us a wee bit if I’m honest.

All she wanted to was to play alongside her friend. So when last week, we were able to let her meet said friend for a play in the park, I’m not sure who was more excited, her or me.

The playpark was open. Both of us Mammies looked at each other, trepidation about whether to let them in on both of our faces. We were afraid. The kids were not. We both had hand sanitizer with us and figured they deserved to have fun, so they ran and down we calmed.

We sat watching them and listening to the sound that I never really listened to before; The sound of children playing; of running and laughter and squeals of delight and roars of fun. We listened to parents calling out to ‘be careful’ or to ‘stop that’. We listened to the sound of playing.

And we both agreed that it was just lovely. And that there are some things that can’t be done on a wattsapp call.

As the sun finally sets on lockdown…

As the sun sets on the “lockdown”, our children will have to learn many things over the next few months. They’ll need to learn about social distancing, and how to behave in certain situations, about hygiene and danger and how to go to places with new procedures in place. But they’re faster learners that we adults are.

And one thing they won’t need to learn again, is how to play.

They are heroes and play is their superpower…

I am Some Proper Fun Mum

Just play…¬†ūüėć

“We couldn’t!”
“Why not?”
“But people will see!?”
“Just play my wee Darlings. Go kick in the leaves.”
Throw them and toss them and kick them so high
And don’t give a thought to those who ask “why?”
You’re never too old to play and to laugh
And sometimes it’s better to step off the path.
The sounds and the giggles, the freedom, the Smiles.
There is no age limit on being a child.
“We did it!”
“You did. And aren’t you glad?”
There’s no room for self-doubt when there’s fun to be had.

#London #mybabbies #life

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 My Leaving Certs having the time of their lives in Hyde Park on Friday.

I am Sleepy Mum

“I am vewy disappointed in your behaviour!”

These are the words that I heard through the baby monitor at around 3am. I heaved my backside out of bed and waddled across the hall to see who exactly had disappointed my threenager at this ridiculous hour.

sleepy

Mini-me was sitting upright in her bed, having assembled her dollies and teddy bears around her and was wide awake and quite happily giving orders and giving out to her audience.

“Are you Ok Baby?” I asked carefully.

“I’m the teacher Mammy,” she announced as if this was perfectly acceptable behaviour in the middle of the night.

“Percy Penguin had to go in the naughty corner cos he’s been very cheeky and I’m very disappointed wif his behaviour.”

In the dim light from the hall, I could see that poor Percy was lying, fluffy arse up, in the toy box, having obviously been launched across the room by Teacher.

What had he done?  Who knows, but it was enough to warrant his banishment to the dark side. And Mini-Me was determined that he deserved his punishment.

“Aw Poor Percy. Will Mammy lift him up to you again?” I ventured.

“No! ¬†He is not being a very good penguin!” she scolded.

“Okay, okay. ¬†Can you please go back to sleep now Honey? ¬†It’s the middle of the night.”

“But Mammy, I have to be the teacher!”

“You can be the teacher in the morning.”

You can imagine the rest of the conversation. ¬†As I sat at the bottom of the bed, begging her to go back to sleep, I struggled not to laugh¬†at the utter determination on her face as she completely and truly believed everything that was taking place in her imagination. ¬†And yet, I couldn’t help but stare and smile at how utterly beautiful her innocent little face was in the nightlight. ¬†Everything that was happening in her mind was absolutely real to her. And if it hadn’t been the middle of the night, I would have encouraged it.

Humorous little girl playing teacher in classroom

Since starting Pre-school, Little Miss Bossy Pants has been blossoming by the day. Her imagination has exploded from already very vivid, to absolutely crazy. ¬†She’s mimicking her lovely new teachers. ¬†She’s turned her teddybears into her “students”. ¬†Even though she’s never seen me in the classroom, she’s playing the “School teacher” in a way that maybe only the daughter of one, can.

She eventually went back to sleep. ¬†I eventually got back to my own bed. ¬†As shattered as I was, it was a relief that she was awake for such silly reasons. ¬†She wasn’t sick. ¬†She wasn’t having bad dreams and she wasn’t crying. ¬†So I had nothing to complain about. ¬†I drifted back to sleep, laughing to myself at the ridiculousness of the conversations one can have with a three year old at 4am.

Maybe she’s doing me a favour. ¬†Maybe she’s so clever that she’s easing Mammy into the world of sleepless nights again in preparation for Babba number 2? Or Maybe Percy was quite simply being a bold penguin.

Regardless of what exactly caused her to leave her dreams and wake up for full-on playtime at stupid o’clock, she bounced out of bed this morning and happily lifted Percy Penguin from his exile. ¬†Putting him back on the bed, she announced “Now, I hope you’ve learned your lesson Percy. ¬†I don’t want to see that behaviour again.” ¬†Whatever his crime, she hadn’t forgotten, but she’d forgiven him.

In the same way, as parents, we quickly forget the pain of being ripped from our sleep in the middle of the night as long as our little rascals are Ok.

But tonight, if she decides to play Teacher, I hope that Poor Percy behaves himself!

I am Sleepy Mum. ūüôā

tired

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I am Silly Mum

imagineSilly Mammy!” I hear this daily. Sometimes it’s true.

I have found that since Mini-me suddenly turned from baby to toddler, that my inhibitions have pretty much diminished. ¬†I went from thinking I didn’t care what people thought of me, to actually not giving a toss what people think of me. ¬†It’s changed my life for the better and I owe it all to her.

I’ve always been a performer. ¬†I’ve dressed up. I’ve worn ridiculous costumes. ¬†I’ve danced¬†ridiculous dances. ¬†I’ve even stripped to my undies…but always in the safety of the stage. ¬†My local theatre stage has allowed me to be dozens of different characters; the Liesl, the lady, the bitch, the hooker –¬†and more times than enough, the blonde bimbo.

But no stage equates to the characters a Mummy can assume when raising a toddler!

At present, Mini-Me often assigns my character to me. ¬†“Look Elsa!” ¬†or “No Anna. I have to find Sven“. ¬†Games that require the adoption of instant imaginary persona, are even coming more naturally to my Husband, who more often than not has to break into sporadic song, (whether he likes it or not!).

I’ve been every Disney Princess imaginable. ¬†I’ve been an elephant. ¬†I’ve been a spaceship. ¬†I’ve been a mouse and I’ve been a scary monster. Whatever she wants me to be really.

greenwig

Today, I am Tinkerbell (apparently) as I am donning a green bobbed wig and am dressed from head to toe in green for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration at school. ¬†I look ridiculous. ¬†A part of me feels ridiculous. ¬†I wouldn’t have dreamed of dropping her to childcare and driving to school like this a few years ago. I nearly didn’t this morning!

I can’t do this…can I?” was my first though when I looked in the mirror. Then, she bounced around the corner and her wee face said it all. ¬†She grinned and announced “Oh Mummy! Your gween¬†hair is boooootiful! SilleeeeMammeeeee!”…and so, feck it, it stayed on.

Yes, people are laughing at me. ¬†I made quite a few students giggle and snort as I flounced to my classroom. I’ve had colleagues shake their heads, baffled…but people are smiling. ¬†I decided to teach my first years Ceil√≠ dancing instead of Poetry. They loved it. So did I. They think I’m silly (or crazy as one of them happily told me!). ¬†So do I!

But I’m having fun and if nothing else, I might just be teaching some of them that standing out and being different¬†is harmless. If they think it’s silly, good! If they think it’s fun, even better! If they don’t like the wig, they can ignore it.¬†Some people will always be uncomfortable with fun. ¬†There’s not really much we can do about that is there?

Mini-me has taught me how to play again. She’s teaching me that it’s OK to be silly. ¬†It’s much more fun than being serious all the time. ¬†I adore how she’s happy to wear her Elsa dress into town. ¬†I admire how she smiles happily when people tell her she’s beautiful. ¬†I love how she spins around when someone tells her that they love her dress. ¬†My response to that is “Penneys best!”, automatically dismissing the compliment.

We don’t take compliments very well. ¬†We don’t usually put ourselves in the spotlight… well, off the stage anyhow. ¬†We dress as¬†fashion allows, so as not to stand out too much. ¬†We’ve forgotten how to be silly.

But we should¬†be silly. ¬†We should wear what we want. ¬†We should sing at the top of our voices, even if it’s awful. ¬†We should wear green wigs if the occasion presents itself. We should teach our kids to be who they want to be, how they want to be, and not to worry too much what people think of them.

She’s teaching me to be silly. ¬†I’ll happily oblige! ¬†It’s liberating. ¬†It’s free and it’s fun!

And while, I’ll be teaching Shakespeare in about 20 minutes time and being very serious, I’ll also be wearing a green wig. ¬†What my LC class make of that, is completely up to them.

Because today, I am indeed Silly-Mum! x

dress up