Tag Archives: Children

FF – Innocence

Copyright for this image belongs to Dale Rogerson

Trigger Warning: I haven’t written much misery recently. Maybe having kids makes it harder to write sad stories. But this one came to me and it needed to be shared. If I’ve done my job well, and especially if you’ve just been watching the UK’s Christmas adverts (McDonald’s in my case), it might bring tears to your eyes.


Little kids just take things for granted, don’t they? When I was in Kindergarten, I didn’t know it was weird to go to school nextdoor to a graveyard. Or to watch your teacher sneak out and eat her lunch every day beside a small grey angel statue, come rain or shine.

We collected leaves between the headstones and took rubbings of their intricate carvings, but we never went near the angel. It was Ms Connor’s special place.

Going back now, I can read the inscription:

Jeffrey Connor


Beloved husband and father to

Mildred Connor


Fly, my angel, fly.


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A personal interlude…


I used to blog a lot about language and grammar. I haven’t had much chance recently, but I am making time today for a one-off linguistic musing. Before one has kids, words mean different things from after.

I have been tired before. I worked hard as a lawyer, with a long commute that meant I was out of the house at 7.15am and not home to even start preparing dinner until 7.30pm, even if I left work on time. At university, I got 5 hours’ sleep at most, swam every morning before lectures and put in a long shift of backstage theatre in the afternoon and evening, as well as research and essays and a fair bit of socialising. When I had the pulmonary embolisms, my body was exhausted by pain, drugs and lack of oxygen; in the early days I could hardly walk downstairs without stopping to rest. But there is no tiredness like the exhaustion of night after night of broken sleep with the baby interspersed by day after day of hard parenting with the preschooler. There is no feeling like standing up to put the baby down and stumbling, because your foot has gone to sleep, and the world is spinning, because the rest of you hasn’t.

I’ve been frustrated before. I’ve missed out on things I thought I deserved and been crapped on when I thought I needed a break, but there is nothing so relentless as parenting. Just trying to get a toddler / preschooler to sleep, when he is old enough to avoid it but not old enough not to want to is worth a lifetime of other frustrations. I want not to mind. I want to believe ‘it doesn’t matter’ if he doesn’t sleep, because there’s very little I can do to make him. But then he misses a nap and is cranky and annoying and so stressed and I just want to stop him and have him understand when I say “You would feel so much better if you would just sleep at naptime”. I want to wrap him in a hug and chuck him out of the window all at once and I know that neither is the ‘right’ thing to do, but I don’t know what is the ‘right’ thing to do either.

I used to know what parenting was. I knew I hadn’t a clue how to go about it, but I could nevertheless have probably given you a description of it that wasn’t “The constant battle to stop the world hurting them or them hurting the world” or “Never knowing the right thing to do”. I’m not a worrier by nature, but I am a mother and whilst it may be evolutionarily advantageous to be able to envisage every possible danger they could come upon in our “child-proofed” living room, it’s not good for the sanity.

But most of all, I knew about love. I ‘loved’ my parents, my family, my friends and of course my husband. I was utterly besotted by (and completely paranoid about) my two cats. A dear friend said to me once, “Before you have a baby, [the cat] is your baby; after you have children, [the cat] is just [a cat].”

There are two boys upstairs (let’s not discuss whether either of them is asleep) who have taught me more about the meaning of words than 30 years and many English teachers managed before they came along. Just the sound of one of them breathing, or rolling over in bed, is enough to make me smile or bring tears to my eyes (sometimes they are tears of frustration because it means little Mr Nap Resister is not asleep, and yes, they are probably closer to the surface because I’m tired) or to make my heart beat a little faster and more warmly.

And what’s truly magical is that, yes, the cats are now just cats (except when my husband leaves the door open and they wander out into the snow), but love isn’t finite. Dominic’s arrival hasn’t reduced the feelings I have for Sebastian; loving them through a mother’s eyes has enhanced the way I feel about my own mother and about all the other mothers I know and love; co-parenting has changed my relationship with my husband, but sharing him and my attention hasn’t diluted the emotional connection between us. I love these two little boys more than I have ever loved anyone before, but the love I have ‘left over’ is more than I had before too.

Motherhood changes everything. I knew that. But I never realised ‘everything’ included the dictionary. IMG_9116sIMG00256-20151224-1708s


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FF – What Dreams May Come

Well, last week’s story seems to have cased more confusion than fun … including for me; I have literally no idea what some of you read there, because your comments most definitely didn’t correspond to what I meant. But this isn’t a complaint; I love seeing how my writing acts on people in unexpected ways!

This week hopefully less subtle, but I await your comments as ever! Thank you for Rochelle for prompt and leadership.


What Dreams May Come

Mick had dreamed of boys playing on his old swing set and climbing the fruit trees. One after the other, his boys came and went, two before they took breath, another without taking a step. He grieved as much for the dream as the babies, although he’d never admit that to Brenda.

Then the real kicker: twin girls, and all the children they could afford.

Mick took down the swings and built a pink playhouse under the apples. It rested unused until one day Mick noticed Sally stretching up from the roof and Ellie perched above her on a branch.


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Friday Fiction – The Crazy All-Weather Ice Cream Man

Home alone with two boys this week, and so far we’re all fed, no-one dead, so I’m counting it a success! There’s still time for it to go horribly wrong though…

On a more reliable front, this week’s FF picture comes from Dee Lovering via Rochelle. I hope you enjoy my offering, your feedback is encouraged.


The Crazy All-Weather Ice Cream Man

Georg knew people laughed; it wasn’t as though they were subtle about it. Youths would shove each other over, pull down scarves or shout through fur-lined collars.
“Chocolate cone with raspberry sauce and sprinkles please,” or “Extra ice in my lemonade, buddy.”
He wasted a lot of stock when they scampered off through the snow, laughing.
But Georg came anyway. On good days, she walked past, he might even hear her voice, chattering to her friends about the crazy all-weather ice cream man; on the best days, she bought something and he could search her face for his own reflection.


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Friday Fiction – Ouroboros

(No baby 😉 )

I hope photographer Douglas M MacIlroy will forgive me pulling the limbs off his pleisiosaur for the purposes of this story and Rochelle will consider it far enough from the picture to meet the demands of her dare!



“So what is it?” I asked. All I knew about snakes eating their tails was “The Greedy Python” at 3am, breastfeeding one child and comforting another.

“It’s an ancient symbol of circularity, or self-reflexivity,” Sadie replied. “Jung reckoned…”

I wanted to listen, but my phone demanded to be checked. We’d both escaped, of course, she from clients; me from fingers under the bathroom door – but at that moment I felt the more trapped.

“Either way though,” she laughed; my wonderful childless friend who knows these things because she loves my children, and me, “He’s going to swallow hard and disappear!”


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Friday Fiction – Good Parenting





This week’s FF picture, courtesy of Lauren Moscato by way of Amy Reese put me instantly in mind of two of my favourite recurring characters. It being April 1st, I should probably have come up with something more foolish, but Matty and Luke stories always seem to arrive fully formed, and I can do little more than transcribe (and cut; this one started out >150 words). I hope you enjoy, I welcome your comments either way though.

Technically this story comes with a LANGUAGE WARNING.


Good Parenting

“Look,” said Luke, “A magic portal!”

“Or the builders fucked up,” Matty replied.

I nearly put the car through a window. “Matty!”

“Uncle Jason says it means made a mistake,” he sounded innocent; I couldn’t see his face.

“It does, but it’s not something we say in polite company.” God, I sounded like my mother.

“What’s polite about us?”

He had a point. Luke had a finger halfway up his nose and I’d just beeped some idiot pedestrian.

“Our language,” I said, burning and burying good parenting, “And the fact that my sons don’t answer back if they want McDonalds.”


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Friday Fiction – On The Shoulders Of Giants

I must be pregnant, or a stay-at-home-Mum … Oh, or both 😉  Each week I think I’ll write a story about something other than parent-child relationships and every week, I mull the prompt over, dismiss a bunch of other ideas and land back in the family. Here’s another one where the appropriate response might be “they’ll be asking to borrow the car keys next”;  I hope you like it and welcome your comments either way. In fact, I’ve written about Luke (and his brother, Matty) before; theirs is one of my favourite fictional families.

Rochelle continues to challenge us with fantastic prompts. This week’s comes from Ted Strutz – a long time Fictioneer whose writing I haven’t seen for a while. Are you still with us, Ted?



On The Shoulders of Giants

“Dad,” Luke paused in The World’s Great Inventors, “When Bell invented the telephone, who did he call?”

“Actually, three men were working on telephone inventions back then. Bell just got there first,” I said.

“So he called the other guys?”


“Also, when Edison invented the lightbulb did he have to wait for someone to invent the switch? And electricity?”

Surely only yesterday this little philosopher was riding on my shoulders and asking about Thomas trains? “Look up Isaac Newton next,” I said, inspired by the memories. “He had something to say about how inventions can’t be seen in isolation.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – Car shopping

As for previous weeks, please accept my apologies for not having much time this week to read and comment on other stories. We’re over halfway there, folks, and December is on the horizon! I have so many things I’m putting off till then, I fear it will still be a busy month, but hopefully a little less crazy!

As for this week’s story I know I shouldn’t prejudice you with my thoughts, but I’m not sure about this one. I had a lot more to say and perhaps with more time and effort, I could have fitted it in better, but see what you think. The picture is from Claire Fuller, other stories can be found through Rochelle.


Car Shopping

“What do you call a Skoda with two exhaust pipes?”

It was Matty’s favourite joke, and I knew the answer, but I scratched my head anyway.

“A wheelbarrow!” He ran off through the showroom, cackling wildly.

“He’ll be mortified,” said my husband, Jack, leaning on our first choice. “But that joke’s anachronistic; they’re good cars.”

“I know, but you’re not the one who’ll have to persuade him to get in it every time.”

“Hey, Mum! How do you double the value of a Skoda?”

“I blame your brother,” grumbled Jack.

“Me too,” I sighed. “Fill up the petrol tank, Matty.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – The View

To avoid spoilers, I’ll save my introduction for after the story today, except to congratulate our host, Rochelle, who celebrates her second anniversary driving our bus – and to thank her and Melanie Greenwood, who provides today’s prompt.


The View

From the outside, looking in, Jerry and Maeve were the picture of contentment. Their jobs kept them busy and challenged, with enough money for incredible holidays and a nice house with the mortgage all-but paid off.

Friends would tell them how wise they were, how lucky, how sensible – how they had evaded tantrums and mini-vans, sticky fingers and muddy floors. Others suggested they might change their minds.

Because from the outside, looking in, it was almost impossible to see the third chair at their table; the empty crib in their spare room … the other life that had never quite begun.




These days it seems there’s a day for everything. Sometimes, I find that frustrating, but so many of the days are important to so many people, which ones would you cut? Is it more important to have a day for Breast Cancer, because it’s common, or for ALS, because it’s not? 15th October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Such losses are mercifully much less common than they once were, but they still affect huge numbers, many of whom will never tell most of their friend, even family. I’ve got plenty of friends who say simply “We’ve decided not to have children”, and in some cases that decision hides difficult times. Which is one of the reasons (part from common decency and respect for the choices of others), why I get so frustrated with those who question that decision.


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Friday Fiction – Broken Telegraph

A quick (but heartfelt) Welcome Back to Rochelle, and Thank You to Claire Fuller for hosting and photographing respectively.

This week’s gorgeous photo made me think of many things, including the wonderful poem Ozymandias, which I urge you to read if you haven’t before. In eschewing skin-disease and Neptune, I eventually settled on the wonders of myth and legend, but a few iterations later, this story is another step removed. If the last line doesn’t make sense for you, click on the link to read about the reference Mummy is making. As always, I welcome your comments.


Broken Telegraph

“Mike says Simon told Adam that Danny’s brother saw Luke climb the old oak tree and fight off an eagle to steal her egg, and then climb back down with it in his mouth, and now it’s going to hatch and he’s going to have a pet eagle. Like Harry Potter.”

The breathless report was delivered along with Matty’s backpack, all before he was through the school gate.

“Harry Potter had an owl,” I mused.

“Mummy! Luke’s a hero! And a thief! Aren’t you going to punish him?”

“Well, let’s find out what happened first. Three-and-fourpence won’t help the advance.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing