FF – There was an old woman

My photo this week; from a decorating activity during the holidays. I can’t wait to see what everyone writes!


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

With so many children she didn’t know what to do,

School closed, then opened, then closed for 8 weeks,

Then opened again; the future looked bleak –

For the old woman, because every time one kid got croup,

She’d to keep them all home – which threw her for a loop,

She had only 2 children, one dog, a cat,

But it felt like a dozen to the poor old bat,

And the longer it went on the battier she grew

In her 3-bedroom house that felt like a shoe.

Extroduction – don’t read this, I’m just ranting.

Tricky day today. After finally getting the kids back to school in mid-February, I felt like I might get some sense of normality back. Some chance to ramp up work and start earning money again, to put the house back to rights, to lose the lockdown weight, to regain my sanity and theirs. Last week, S got a cold. We staved off the croup that threatened with it, but still had to keep them both home for the rest of the week pending covid tests. Negative. All clear. Back to school Monday and I felt the hope rising again, then yesterday lunchtime the call came – positive case in D’s class. Come and pick them both up. They could be home up to 2 weeks. Just in time for “March break” for a week from 12 April. After which we have no guarantee that schools will reopen.

I’m bracing myself for having them home now until September. For the loss of time and work and sanity for me, for the loss of education, socialisation and sanity for them. I know we have so much to be grateful for, I know it could be so much worse and I know that we will make the best of it. But that’s the back story of today’s post and why I’m sure the gingerbread woman is hiding tears behind her painted on smile.

Back to too much screentime for my little unicorns!


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52 responses to “FF – There was an old woman

  1. A perfectly delightful rant

  2. If it helps at all, your pain and frustration is shared by many! Hopefully with the impressive vaccine roll out in the UK, we are over the school opening/closing roller coaster now, but we shall see! Love the poem.

    • Yes, it’s actually making us wonder if we should move back. We are much slower on vaccs here, and have been much stricter on lockdowns. Thank you for the read and the comment though, we’ll get there.

  3. It has been a ridiculously crazy time! I cannot tell you how happy I am that my kids are adults and I didn’t have to deal with the home schooling, the zoom schooling… I just couldn’t wait for them to get out of my house! Now, two of us three work from home… sigh…
    All that to say, wonderfully done!

  4. A wonderful poetic story. I’m missing the prompt in it though.

    • It’s definitely more at the inspiration end than illustration, but the prompt is what brought out this story – the gingerbread woman looks to me like she’s surrounded by children, crowded together with the dog and the cat. Is one of the others a gingerbread man? Maybe, but it could just as easily be another child and either way she’s feeling crowded and overwhelmed. That’s what I got from the photo, from my recent days and from knowing this was another ‘homeschool’ activity when we made it too!

  5. Laura Rodbard

    I feel your pain. We all know that the protocol are necessary to protect children at school, but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with. I know from my own child, his mental health is better when he’s in school surrounded by his friends. Last time we moved to virtual online learning he was suffering from headaches within weeks, and his motivation to learn significantly reduced. It fills me with dread to know we’re probably moving back to that. I remind him and myself for everything we should be grateful for, but that doesn’t make any of it easy.

    • Yeah, exactly. I have found restricting screens reduces the headaches (I don’t let them read on a screen for example, but we’re lucky we have a million books at home), but the motivation and the emotional state are awful with online learning. I’m dreading the idea of a long-term return to it.

  6. Love the poem.
    Love the back story.
    Love the photo.
    Have a hug, Jen.

  7. I love the way you’ve wrapped your story in a nursery rhyme! I’m sure it’s something many will relate to. Well done.

  8. such a nice combination of exasperation and cuteness~

  9. True confession: I read the rant you said not to read. And I liked both it and the poem. Thanks for sharing both. Hope your week is less stressful than it sounds. Either way, e-hugs and calorie-free e-cookies from me to you, if you want them!

  10. I’m old–predating vaccines for mumps, measles, etc. When my kids were little, and we heard a child in their class had, say, chicken pox, we sighed and just waited for the first symptoms to appear.Which they always did. You dosed them up with whatever helped, put them to bed for a day or so until the fever broke, and then said “Don’t scratch” about a million times each day.

    What I really hated was when one of mine came home and said cheerfully, “Johnny puked in class today. The teacher freaked. It was so cool!”

  11. I love the way you’ve used the nursery rhyme, Jen. Getting the frustration out in a fun way! You know how many parents give teachers gifts at the end of the school year? Well, this year i think parents should give themselves a gift too for all you’ve had to deal with this year!

  12. Cute real life nursery rhyme. Good photo prompt!

  13. I hear you but at least you got a cute neat poem that will resonate with uncountable mothers all over the world. Best wishes 🙂

  14. There was in Old woman
    Who lived in a shoe
    With covid around her
    Her soul gave away too

    I don’t know why I felt I knew where this was going 🙂

    Rant away. Have much older children so we are probably better off. Though I must confess after working from home in comfy clothes for over a year I am not used to wearing shoes and formal attire on the days that we now have to work. in the office

    • I think there will be a big transition if/when we have to go back, subroto! If the suits still fit, of course. I liked your poem – I shall do my best to protect my soul 😉

  15. I think many people are finding their living quarters a shoe. You have a right to rant. Fun poem. Mum is frazzled. Who could blame her.

  16. I’m sure many parents are feeling the same pain 😮

  17. Dear Jen,

    I remember feeling like I’d lose my mind when my boys had extra days off for snow. I can only imagine your plight with covid and the like. Love the poem. Thank you for the picture. As you can see there are some fun stories going round.

    Shalom and a hug,


  18. it’s about perspectives. many years down the road, you’ll look at this with fondness. 🙂

  19. The poor poor woman what should she do?
    So she took all the children to the Zoo
    Then she ran away as fast as she could.

    it seems like one of those never ending stories.
    Fun poem,

    Take care.

  20. GHLearner

    Great poem, understandable rant. We’re all grumpy and tired, but people with children must be twice (or thrice) as stressed. Let’s hope the vaccinations will make a difference.

  21. Love it! I am so glad I don’t have school age kids now. Good luck!

  22. I guess this is one time I can be happy I don’t have kids… or unicorns. Normalcy is just over the horizon. Of course, the horizon never seems to sit still long enough to be caught.

  23. I’m so glad you vented, and in such a lovely poetic way. I think normality is on the horizon, we just need to hold on a bit longer!

  24. I feel your pain mate! its been a tough year and its such a delicate balance to maintain. Ours went back end of Feb, March time too and now we’ve got 2 weeks Egg holiday break. My kids are at the age where I can leave them be and they have been doing there work but their insistence on coming out in the car for a trip to the supermarket just to see the hedgerows and fields rushing by is really weird. I don’t know where you are in the World but hang in there, things’ll get better one day, but at what expense. Good piece by the way, I’ve got a massive admiration for folk who can write a poem, clever stuff!

  25. I love the story… not so much the backstory. Even as an adult I still get croup…only now, doc calls it mild asthma. I commiserate with that. I know what you mean about t his open/close/open thing. It’s entirely frustrating for everyone. All we can do is take it one day at a time. At least, it’s getting warmer and you can send kids outside to play.

  26. Well done…loved the rhyme…and the picture! 🙂

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