• 1marthasmith

Jesus at the Spar


Something small and bleary-eyed has just flung itself into my bed. I'd like to say that it is because my youngest is super-keen to have a snuggle but it's actually because I keep her kindle in my room overnight and it, not me, is the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up. The Glue-Fairy appears to have visited her hair overnight, matting it and causing much of it to stand out from her head at 45 degrees. She has also attempted, yet again, to colour her entire face in with felt pens and shoots me an enquiring look, not sure whether I have noticed. A cursory hug is given and she is off like a shot. Her faux-American accent, thanks to YouTube Minecraft videos, is coming on a treat.


I have no idea what day it is but even that doesn't really matter. I stumble into the kitchen and flick on the kettle. The Eldest thumps down the stairs, disappointed that I am up as it means he has missed out on a morning chat in my room. I make my tea with a thirteen year old's head resting on my back. It isn't easy.


He starts to assemble his things for breakfast; the correct bowl, correct spoon, milk and giant box of weetabix. This takes about twenty five minutes as everything must be closely inspected prior to selection. Meanwhile, my enquiry as to The Smallest's breakfast choice is met with a scream and a thrown book. I give it five minutes and try again. A hissing, snarling fiend crashes into the kitchen and a million pound smoothie is selected from the fridge. This, it appears, is the third of the morning as I made the mistake of ordering in bulk online and didn't think to hide some. Rookie mistake.


I smilingly mention that it is time to take the morning's medication and it does not go well. I'll give it ten. No dice. I give it another ten. The highlights of the third attempt are a thrown million pound smoothie wrapper, several toys, two books and a door smashed into a chest of drawers. The Eldest puts on ear defenders. Only choice remaining is to confiscate the sacred kindle. Result of sorts. Hissing spitting barbarian screamingly takes spoonful of medicine hidden in chocolate over a ten minute period, waving spoon in air in a desperate attempt to fling it away. I suggest a one, two, three go, approach which is eventually adopted, along with extensive grimacing, retching and glugging of milk.


Time for a break, I feel. We need to do some home-schooling but I'll give it half an hour or so before I tackle it. I head for the shower. Meanwhile, the despairing Eldest decides to take revenge on The Squealer by winding her up savagely as soon as I lock the bathroom door. Shower therefore lasts less than three minutes. I emerge enraged, chuntering on about lack of time to myself, unnecessary noise, mindlessness of deliberately winding each other up etc. No one is interested.


My son has finished his breakfast and we discuss which one of us is going to hoover/whether we are going to do any laundry today. He has put himself in charge of both and has an almost tyrannical grip on both tasks. It simply isn't worth crossing him. The weather station monitor is checked and it is decided that it is a good day for drying. I strip a bed, he does the rest. This in itself is progress, as Saturday is the day he likes to wash and dry but the last one was a rainy day and resulted in a meltdown. He is forcing himself to be flexible.


I have read that I am supposed to be enjoying cleaning my house to help endure lockdown.


With trepidation I approach the room of The Youngest. Five minute warning is given and school work is assembled on the dining room table. Six five minute tasks and a story to read. A smiling, happy, loving child emerges from bedroom and work is completed. Ish. I feel triumphant and celebrate with a cup of tea and far too many biscuits, deciding to forget immediately the previous day's complete failure to engage her in anything even vaguely educational resulting in me eating crisps and watching Basil Rathbone in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Perhaps this is progress...?



The Eldest is overwhelmed by the tasks on his online learning platform, as am I. It is zero fun being a Learning Support Assistant to two children. Science and Engineering make me want to bury myself in the garden but his teachers are understanding and are prepared to break the tasks down for us. Thank goodness he is happy with the maths.


I seem to be moving at a snail's pace these days and I am far too aware that my backside is now the size of a barrage balloon. I have read that I am supposed to be putting my jeans on every three days to ensure I keep a grip on my size. I fear that ship has long-since sailed. I decide that more gardening is necessary and set about turning my newly established compost heap and planting seeds which are taking far to long to grow for my liking. Perhaps a spin with the lawn mower will help with the bingo wings issue. No immediate improvement there and I am soon called back inside to break up a fight. I end up shouting at them to stop shouting.



I have read that I am supposed to be using my time to learn a new skill.


It's lunchtime and I churn out the same lunch for my son that he has eaten for approximately ten years. My daughter will have something with cheese in it and I find myself desperately threading grapes onto toothpicks in order to lure her into eating something fresh. She loves 'fruit kebabs'. She does not love these, it transpires. I console myself with the fact that she has drunk some apple juice.


I have read that I am supposed to be throwing myself joyfully into cooking during this time.


The afternoon stretches in front of us. I have promised to do some more work with the Smallest but suspect I might opt out today and hide at the bottom of the garden with my seedlings and book. The Eldest and I have become unhealthily obsessed with the daily briefing and take time discussing the charts and reflecting on the fact that we are massively lucky to have the opportunity to keep ourselves safe. We have a home, a garden and a mortgage holiday, although this doesn't stop him trying to settle himself on my lap. He is now taller than me.


The milk is on the turn and I need to head over to the Spar. I have, in my time, sauntered through many places at three in the morning that should only ever have been run through, and yet the thought of crossing the road and heading into the little shop makes me deeply uneasy. I do not like this new anxiety at all. Last week there was a woman outside claiming to be Jesus and letting those in the queue know that they were not to worry, she had the whole situation in hand. I do hope she was right.





MS Parent Advocate is a supportive blog focusing on the challenges and wins of parenting children with additional needs. Based in Hampshire Martha runs workshops for schools and other education providers in Surrey, London & Hampshire on how to improve empathy between teachers and parents.

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