Gotta Get Out The House

Ah… quality time at home with the children.

I’m sorry, what?! There is quality time with the children. And there is time at home with the children. And, for our family, the two are pretty much mutually exclusive. Home is about mess, fights, funny smells, nagging, exasperation, and a lot of arguments involving the word “screen”. The good stuff happens outside the house. IF ONLY WE CAN GET THEM OUT….

Gotta Get Out The House

Gotta get out the house, gotta leave,
My sanity needs some reprieve,
That two little boys,
Could make so much noise –
You’d have to be here to believe!

Before, I’d no concept at all,
Of the phrase “We are climbing the walls” ,
But now it appears,
We are wall mountaineers,
Trying to flee from the mess and the brawls.

We’ve tried castles, museums, a wood,
Hit the park way more times than we should,
Our purses are thickets,
Of passes and tickets,
Cos not being home is soooo good.

Our bank account’s screams are dramatic:
“No more lunch! No more fuel! I can’t hack it!”
“No more bribes!” (Yes – they’re wrong –
But they move things along –
And we call it “being pragmatic”!)

So into the car and away!
The safari park’s waiting today!
To the monkey house! Yes,
It might look quite a mess –
But OUR house will look worse if we stay!

 

©️Nina Parmenter 2018

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The smell of the weekend (a tale from my childhood)

It is said that smell is the very best sense for evoking memories. But can words evoke the smell?

I picked a very favourite smell from my childhood – the smell of custard bubbling in the pan – to try to find out. For me, custard is intertwined with happiness, family, and that wonderful “happy belly feeling”. Maybe it might take you back to Sunday puddings too.

The Smell of the Weekend

A tale from my childhood

Weekends. A lie in. Some morning TV,
A trip to the library, a dash to the shop,
Some football to watch or some good friends to see,
And a hot, milky pan that would bubble and pop,
Cos weekends meant pudding – with custard on top.

The anticipation was always a killer!
I’d trawl through my homework, my nose ever twitching,
Awaiting the blanket-soft scent of vanilla,
Velvet-cream thoughts so distracting, bewitching.
And then – yes! – a sweet, silky smell from the kitchen.

So I’d chomp through my meat and potatoes and veg,
(Or whatever our prelude to pudding that day),
The waft from the stove setting senses on edge,
Til finally! Pudding! And all was OK…
I’d open my mouth and slide sweetly away.

 

©️Nina Parmenter 2018

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Perplexing Child

We know that part of the reason for our success as a race is our diversity. And yet, we still sometimes don’t know how to cope with difference. Especially amongst our children.

Faced with sensitive children, artistic children, gifted children, ADHD children, autistic children – we’re tempted to try to homogenise them, make them conform, quash what makes them brilliant. Because, as much as we desperately love them, what makes them brilliant can also make them a huge, perplexing challenge.

Perplexing Child 

My brave, perplexing child – you are unique,
You do not touch the world like others do.
The words we say, our rules, the things we seek,

They’re all a strange cacophony to you.

What does life feel like, there behind your eyes,
Your mouth, your nose, your fingertips, your ears?
If I could breathe your breath, what fresh surprise

would hide within your thoughts, your dreams, your fears?

You challenge life. You rail against the norm,
Within this world that needs us all compliant,
You’ll blossom, though, while they rush to conform,

You’ll grow in your own skin, become a giant.

One day you’ll burn magnificently bright,

Until then, there’s a world we have to fight.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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Shipwrecked Brain

This one’s for all the Mums who had their own mental battles to face when their baby was first born.

New motherhood is an onslaught on the brain. Your life changes drastically and permanently. You’re exhausted. You’re overwhelmed with questions, information and scrutiny. Nature has generously popped you into a “cow-like state” (not my words!!) in preparation for early motherhood. And to top that, you have a 25% chance of suffering post-natal depression.

To overcome these battles is extraordinary. You are warriors. And I salute you all. x

Shipwrecked Brain

When baby’s born, you’re meant to feel
a rush of love.
Hey, that’s the deal.

But sometimes…

Birth is blood and shock and pain
and steel. And when your shipwrecked brain
resurfaces, you realise –
the love
did not
materialise.

Instead, a claustrophobic fear
encloses you. This new career
cannot be given up, and yet
it’s tough –
as tough as life can get.

But…

Although you’re crazed with tiredness
and panic, you still nurture, kiss
and hold your child.
And deeply care.
The months go by…
Then love is there.

This hard-won tear-stained love you feel
was made by you.
And that’s unreal.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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You cannot beat a stick

My children have some great toys so  I feel a mixture of delight and slight irritation when they abandon them all for sticks.

No trip to a woodland, romp round a stately home, or quick pee in a layby is complete for my children without harvesting a stick. Gun-shaped sticks are among the most prized, although fights regularly break out over a good “staff”.

I am totally without scruples when it comes to disposing of them – however a 2 minute run round my house revealed the booty shown in the photograph. Yes. The sticks are winning.

You cannot beat a stick

Toy companies are pretty sly,
Their flashy ads are slick,
But still they cannot fathom why,

Soft Play

For many Mums, a trip to soft play is a good excuse for a sit-down and a chat. Not for me. My three year old drags me round the teeny tiny assault course with all the energy of – well a three year old.

I am therefore massively grateful to Sarah McIntosh for requesting a soft play poem -Sarah, composing this literally kept me sane as I crawled round Little Urchins for an hour and a half this afternoon, so thank you!

Soft Play

Soft play will be nice,” I think,
I’ll sit and drink some tea,
But then I hear the words I fear,
“Mummy! play with me!”

Doesn’t this boy realise,
I’m not the size of Frodo?
I’ll come out, weeping, all scrunched up,
Like Mummy Quasimodo.

I can’t go down the bumpy slide,
My dodgy back can’t take it,
I can’t go down the tube slide,
Cos my arse just will not make it.

I can’t go through the rollers,
Man, they really hurt my boobs,
I can’t go up the zig zag steps,
(Well, not without some lube).

I can’t go in the playhouse,
As I’m over three foot two,
And also I might suffocate,
Cos someone’s done a poo.

The ball pit is a dangerous place,
I’m really much too big,
At best, I’ll flatten all the balls,
At worst, somebody’s kid.

“Why don’t you play with Jack?” I beg,
“Your bestest friend from nursery?”
“No, Mummy, I want YOU”, he pouts,
My boy shows me no mercy.

So on I go, across the bridge,
And up the cargo net,
Let’s face it, it’s the only
exercise I ever get.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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Nothing makes me mutter more than clutter

I hate clutter. That may surprise anyone who has ever visited my house. But what’s important to realise is that there is a difference between wanting a tidy house and being able to achieve it.

I have friends with grown up, tidy houses. Friends with grown up, tidy houses AND KIDS. I’m at a loss as to how this is achieved. I’m guessing the crucial ingredients are a domestic goddess mother, and a well-trained, or at least trainable family. Here, we have neither.

So it seems that I am doomed to wake up each day, vow to have A BIG TIDY UP, sometimes even achieve a middle-sized tidy up, and then go to bed wondering which house it was that I tidied earlier.

This poem,  if you’d be so kind, is to be read with a hint of insanity in the voice. Thank you so much.

Nothing makes me mutter more than clutter

Nothing makes me mutter more than clutter,
It’s the very ruination of my day,
My family, no doubt, really LOVE to get stuff out,

But I think they think it puts itself away.

I tell you, I’m not blessed with being domestic –
For tidiness, I’d give myself a six,
But my precious family would each earn themselves a three,

Which all adds up to a house which makes me twitch.

There are ninety-seven items in the kitchen,
Which are not where I intended them to be,
In the lounge there’s fifty-four, in the dining room there’s more,

In the playroom, there’s two hundred, maybe three.

There are pens and bills and helmets on the table,
There are bricks and cups and spanners on the drawers,
And upon the window sill, there’s a pile of stuff that will

Have to stay there til I work out what it’s for.

In the bedroom, there is very little legroom,
In the hallway there is very little hope,
In the bathroom, so much stuff, there is barely room to guff,

And I don’t know how much longer I can cope.

So I’ve tidied and I’ve picked up and I’ve kicked up,
I’ve ranted til I’m purple in the face,
But as soon as somewhere’s clear, there’s just one sound I will hear…

The clatter as more clutter takes its place.

 

By the way – if you were thrown by the word “guff”, do let me know – I’m not sure if this delightful term for a fart is only understood by those who were around seven years old in 1984. Could even be a Somerset thing, I’m not sure!

I do have in my pocket the alternative line “There is barely any fart-room in the bathroom – which I quite like – but I was swayed by the opportunity to say “guff” for the first time in around twenty years!

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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Let’s talk about schadmin

Schadmin… school related admin. Yet another thing they don’t tell you before you have children.

Aside from eating, breathing and sleeping (and of course, writing silly poetry), I could spend every minute of the day complying with the endless rounds of homework, reply slips, charity requests, baking, and last minute laundry which comes with having a school-age child. I also find it essential to schedule in some time for looking bewildered, shaking my head quietly in a corner, or simply wondering to myself where it all went wrong.

Oh, and by the way, this rhyme doesn’t even mention “creative homework”. THAT little baby deserves a rhyme all of its own…

Let’s talk about schadmin

Let’s talk about schadmin, the admin that comes,
Not for the schoolkids but for their poor mums,
Who some  years ago, once exclaimed (the poor fools),

“Won’t life be easier once they’re at school?”

Let’s start with the homework – now that should be fine,
But hang on, what’s this? Got to do it online?
You can’t start your router, you’ve crashed your computer,
Smile Mummy! This is the digital future!
So while you untangle yourself from the cables,
You practise the reading, the spelling, times tables,
Oh yes, and tonight you must also produce,
A piece of research about Robert the Bruce,
The human anatomy labelled in braille,
A knitted giraffe (for the PTA sale),
And favourite of all, just found in the drawers is:

“Write fifteen lines with subordinate clauses”!

But it’s done. They’re in bed, and you start to feel better,
Best check the bags though. Hey presto! Six letters.
It seems that next week you’ve been asked to provide,
A “green” picnic lunch with no wrappers inside,
A world book day costume which celebrates Dickens,
(You’ve got a hen costume – did Dickens have chickens?)
Ten pounds for a school trip and warm outdoor clothes,
With waterproof trousers (whoever has THOSE?)
A tray full of cupcakes, all nice and enticing,
(“Why not let the children help out with the icing?”)
A pound for the book sale, a pound for the fair,

And a pound cos some teacher is shaving their hair.

Well after all that, you say “that’s it for me!”
“I’m off to my bed.” – but what’s THIS that you see?
A stinking PE kit thrown down in the hall,
It’s needed tomorrow – yes, washed, dried and all,
(There was once a spare kit but “Mummy, I lost it.”
– it’s probably still in the hedge where they tossed it.)
Some shoes and a coat which are utterly caked
(from commando crawls over the field at break)
And a jumper with mystery holes in the cuff,
Wasn’t the massive school dinner enough??
So as you load washing, and sew, half asleep,

You’re starting to babble and quietly weep.

Let’s talk about schadmin, the admin that comes,
Not for the schoolkids but for the poor mums,
Who are now fast asleep, with signs that say “Please,
Wake me up after the GCSEs.”

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2017

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The National Trust

I have a deep affection for the National Trust. With two energetic young boys, the weekend rule in our house is generally “anywhere but at home!” Our National Trust membership allows us to unleash them in some beautiful places, leaving our own house mostly unwrecked (although slightly more full of sticks) for one more precious day.

I think of the National Trust as a slightly eccentric great aunt, prone to lectures on the correct placement of cutlery, but also quite likely to slip me a boiled sweet or a couple of quid. So I hope this particular aunt doesn’t mind a bit of gentle ribbing.

 

The National Trust

The National Trust, The National Trust,
A mightier thing than all of us,
A fine institution, a positive force,
For a tenner a month, it can all be yours!
So we get in the car and head off for the day,
The brown signs of worthiness show us the way,
We head for the house – but I’ve got quite a thirst –

“Can we not go to the tearoom first?”

No – onwards! Past tapestries, teasets, a Titian,
A slightly tedious exhibition,
Cabinets, carpets and candelabras,
And a lovely lady, name of Barbara,
(A volunteer, reduced to tears,
By standing in one room for years)
She points at a pot! We all say “wow!

But can we go to the tearoom now?”

There are grounds all around, where there’s joy to be found,
In glorious nature, its sights and its sounds,
There are log piles to climb, and rope swings to hold on,
(It’s just like the park, only ten times more wholesome),
Rose gardens, rockeries, rippling rivers,
A small hairy man with his arrows and quiver,
Who gives us a go on his medieval bow –

But NOW is it time for the tearoom though?

Wait! Listen! YES! the clock strikes three,
The footsteps thunder – time for tea!
And mums, kids and grannies, all manners at bay,
Stampede for a spot in the Courtyard Café,
To toss back some tea, and scoff down some scones,
And snap up the shortbread before its all gone –
But where do we go once we’ve stuffed it all in?

LOOK! A shop full of chutney and artisan gin.

The National Trust, The National Trust,
A mightier thing than all of us,
A fine institution, a positive force,

For a tenner a month, this can all be yours.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2017

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Halloween Tat

I have to declare I’m not a lover of Halloween these days.  I’m utterly depressed by the annual growth in disposable tat, and the increasing grisliness of the costumes. Call me super-sensitive, but I’m not a great fan of seeing my gorgeous, fresh-faced children dressed as corpses. Here they are in this year’s dreadful outfits; the only saving grace is that 90% of what you see here is re-used from previous occasions. You’re welcome, Mother Earth. You’re welcome, bank balance.

So I’ll say Bah Humbug, or whatever the Halloween equivalent is (Bah Special Edition Pumpkin-Themed Haribo, presumably), and leave the poem to say the rest…

 

Halloween Tat

There’s nothing more tatty than Halloween tat,
A bent plastic broomstick, a Styrofoam cat,
A bad rubber mask of Vlad the Impaler,

Get it all now from your nearest retailer!

Come on consumers! Now now, don’t be sceptical,
Buy all your crap for the Halloween festival,
Googly eyes, all squidgy and spherical,
Musical witch-hats (now they are hysterical),
Transform yourself to a fake plastic spectacle,
Bugs on your earlobes and bats on your testicles,
Let’s all make Poundland so much more investible,

What better use for our scarce petrochemicals?

So dress up your grandchildren as the undead,
Don’t they look cute with fake blood on their heads,
And as Halloween ends, and you turn out the light,

Have sweet dreams of landfill. How scary. Night night.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2017

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