Tag Archives: fire engines

Bee Baw










When do the lights go down, Mummy?

When do the lights go down, Mummy?

Well, today we reached another milestone with Motormouth.

He saw his first film in the cinema.

We told him we’d take him a couple of days before if he was good and, bless him, he tried so hard, despite Mini’s attempts to make him stray off the straight and narrow. In fact, it’s been quite weird for it to be her that’s the naughtiest rather than him. He remained resolute in the face of sibling sabotage, not reacting when she was pinching him (her latest habit which we’re trying very hard to break), pulling his hair (he really does need a haircut) or slapping him on the back.

To be fair, they have had their times when they played nicely together. I know they did.

I wrote it down in my diary.

Back to the film. He wanted to see Planes 2 – Fire and Rescue (and, I have to admit, I was quite keen to see it; any film that has ACDC’s Thunderstruck in the soundtrack has got to be good.) We bought the tickets as a special treat before he started school. It was a very special treat as it turned out – £14 for the two of us and that was just for the tickets with him under 5!

We went away and amused ourselves for an hour and a half when we found out that the showing we originally wanted was 3D. (Please cinemas, if you’re going to list all your showings in one place, do let us know which are 3D and which aren’t.) Motormouth is too young to watch 3D and I really didn’t fancy trying it with varifocals (yep, I am that old – calling this blog the Trials and Tribulations of a Mature Mother might have given you a clue in that department). Having seen the film now, I’m really glad we didn’t, since Motormouth found some parts a bit scary and they would have been even worse in 3D. Anyway, we got the tickets, wandered around, came back and went into the cinema.

Motormouth was on form, at least with his questions. We had everything from where the music was coming from, to the best tally system to use when counting the lights, to the names of every single film character in the adverts, all liberally interspersed with “when are the lights going down?”

I think the poor father behind me must have been worried that he was going to keep it up for the entire film.

He did, but to be fair to Motormouth, he did learn to whisper his questions.

He did suddenly develop a fastidious streak half way through the film, which is odd since it’s usually Mini that stands there and demands to be cleaned.

“Mummy, I’ve got sticky hands. Have you got any wipes?”

“No.” I silently berate myself for not chucking a pack into my bag.

“But I’ve got sticky hands. I need a wipe!” I’m very conscious of the the volume rising.

“Just wipe your hands on your T shirt!” Not generally accepted parental advice but he usually does it anyway. To my relief he does it and quietens down. In the meantime, I’m thanking whatever gods exist that I bought him dolly mixtures for the film and not anything chocolate.

A few minutes later… “Mummy, I’ve got sticky hands. Can you lick them clean for me?” I won’t go any further, suffice it to say that there are some sacrifices you are forced to make as a parent.

Finally we could concentrate on the film again.

I have never seen him sit still for so long, even allowing for the fact he climbed onto my lap when the hero got into real danger, or so quietly. He was totally engrossed. He stayed awake the whole time (unlike the little girl behind us who was carried out by her dad at the end, still fast asleep).

It also fittingly carried on the theme of the week that Motormouth has adopted – fire and rescue. Everywhere we’ve been he’s been running around calling out “bee baw bee baw”, which apparently is the correct sound for a fire engine. Motormouth gave me appropriate instruction on that this morning. We’ve had the sirens on in the car park, in the supermarket, around the restaurant where we were supposed to be meeting the Other Half, pretty much anywhere he went, we’ve had sirens.

He’s also been sliding down poles.


Sometimes he’s even asked for help. I don’t think the toddler parking sign in the local supermarket will ever be the same again. I think the staff were a bit bemused as well.

And every day he’s had to wear red, or at least his reflective vest and builder’s helmet (he broke his fireman’s helmet). Well, almost everyday. He had to change his T shirt before we went to the cinema today – he’s almost as messy an eater as his father, so he went for the camouflage look.

We’ve got another Motormouth/Mother day tomorrow and we’re going to watch a film. This time it’s going to be with popcorn and snuggled up on the settee. The cinema experience is great but a little too expensive to do too often.

What to watch though? Monster’s Inc. or Despicable Me 2?

Choices, choices.

The question is, what catchphrase do we want to be hearing for the next week?

By the way, Planes 2 has some nice touches for us adults and does a particularly good homage to ChiPs, complete with Eric Estrada’s vocals.

Oh yeah, and there’s ACDC.

Pass Me the Hook Brush Please

"Let me tell you a secret..."

“Let me tell you a secret…”

It’s been chaos this afternoon, with screams and shouting and even some biting (or at least attempted biting).

Yep. I’ve had both kids at home this afternoon and they’ve swung from holding their own little love-fest to trying to deafen each other (I think my subsequent hearing loss is considered collateral damage) on a regular basis.

If you call every 4 minutes regular that is.

It’s a bit weird really and I can only put it down to the fact that the relationship between Mini and Motormouth is changing.

Maybe it’s because Motormouth starts school in a few weeks. Perhaps he’s stepping into a more grown-up persona. That would explain the times he pulls Mini close and says “hush, sweetheart, it’s all right.” I know he’s copying the words we use, but I think the same sentiment is there.

He even counts the stairs as he helps Mini climb down them, (although it was a bad joke for every step instead of numbers the other day), and is very careful when he’s showing her how to cross the road safely.

Some things haven’t changed – Motormouth is still first choice for holding hands and Mini still has to copy everything that Motormouth does, including walking along walls, poking drain hole covers, picking dandelions… well you get the message.

Yesterday was a classic. Motormouth decided I needed a make-over, specifically I needed my hair to look like Princess Jasmine’s. There he was, with his faithful assistant Mini passing him his “equitment” on demand. He did put his own unique spin on things, using “hook brushes”, toy swords and other random items. He and Mini are on the same wave length as well. She doesn’t seem to have any problems understanding what he wants, which is lucky really, the way his imagination works. Who knew a fire ladder was an essential hair dressing tool?

There are some moments when I catch them unaware, when they snuggle up to each other whilst watching TV or they sit there holding hands in the back of the car.

Those are the memories that make the screaming and the crying worthwhile.

I just wish I could stuff them in my ears to block out some of the noise (the memories that is, not the kids).

In the meantime, I’ll just turn the radio up and grin and bear it.

I’ve Come to Learn!


I'm here to learn, teach me please!

I’m here to learn, teach me please!

It had to happen.

Motormouth has started playgroup. Admittedly he is starting later than some (he’ll be 4 at Christmas) but he is starting and he loves it, with a capital L.

When we first broke the news to him he was excited to say the least. He’d been to visit the group with us before and settled in immediately, playing with the toys and interacting with the other children from the start. In fact we had some difficulty prising him away. The first question he asked was “Am I going to learn lots of things?” He was very happy to find out that was the aim.

The night before his first day he kept telling me he was going to school. In fact he was telling everyone, although I’m not sure the fishmonger at the local supermarket was really that interested. We sorted out his little thermos bag in the shape of a fire engine (christened Jupiter after the engine on Fireman You-know-who). We discussed what he wanted for his packed lunch. He made me promise to remember to make it before I went to bed. Three times.

He even went to bed early so morning would come round quicker.

In the morning he didn’t even need to be chased around the house to have his teeth brushed. (About the only place I haven’t ventured with the toothbrush and knee-to-pin-down combination is the toilet. I absolutely refuse to clean his teeth in the toilet.)

Socks, shoes, fleece and coat went on without protest and he stood by the door waiting impatiently for us.

It was a nice change, until he started nagging the Other Half and I, telling us we were going to be late. That was a role reversal too far.

When we arrived at playgroup he strode in as if it was his natural habitat (which in a way I suppose it is). Playgroups are usually pretty organised but to the uninitiated outsider it can look like hordes of small hooligans rushing around like pin balls in a pinball machine. (One on tilt as well).

At the end of the day he was keen to tell us what he’d done. In between hearing about his exploits with the dustcart (he has a weird obsession with them, along with bin men and recycling) I tried to get some feedback about how he’d been.

“Oh, he’s settled in well.” I nodded, we expected that.

“He asks lots of questions doesn’t he.” It was presented as a statement, and yes, we know he asks a lot of questions.

They handed me a nice red folder with some notes in it, telling me what he’d been doing. I scanned them.

“Hold on, something is wrong here.” They looked concerned and read the entry I was pointing at. “That can’t be right.”

“No, no, it is correct.” They assure me.

“That was definitely Motormouth?” They nod. I lean down at the small boy who is busy trying to swing from my arm and try to feel his forehead (with the arm he’s not swinging from). No. Normal. I look at them again and they nod silently. I look at the words again; snacks 1100 am cheese, apple and cucumber.


What’s wrong with cucumber you ask? Well, from Motormouth’s point of view, everything! It’s green. It’s a vegetable (he’s not going to be swayed by the fact that technically it’s a fruit because the seeds are on the inside). It usually comes with salad. It’s not cheese, or yoghurt, or sausage. It’s, well, it’s yuk.

But he ate cucumber! (I decide I can’t wait to tell the Other Half so I send him a text.)

He eats it again the second day but we decide not to mention it in case he realises we might use the leverage to get him to eat cucumber at home.

In his second week we get given a form to complete, so they can assess where he is in terms of development. Some of the questions make me laugh out loud.

Is he able to ask simple questions? Yes, questions like why do we have feet? What are tears made of? Why does chicken fat go hard when it’s cold? Why has the face fallen off his Kwazii toy (I told him not to get it wet).

You know, the usual things that Brian Cox can deal with easily. Except maybe the Kwazii question, I’m not sure how knowledgeable he is about Octonauts.

It reminds of the initial form I had to complete for the staff. This was the boring one about contact details and suchlike. But Motormouth being Motormouth, living with him still gave us the opportunity to show some of his uniqueness.

Does he have any special people or pets he might refer to?

Well, yes.

I list the favourite cousins and neighbours.

Then I think it might be good to explain the family names. Grandma being Nanny Nutjob for instance.

Or the fact that his father and I are regularly referred to as Kwazii and Dashi (the Other Half is the one with pirate tendencies). His little sister is Junip more often than not.

A week on, I have to update the list.

Motormouth has discovered Paw Patrol and we now have our assigned names.

I’m Glider ( a cute pink chihuahua that flies a plane, well, I suppose I do have a long-expired glider pilot’s licence to my name) and the Other Half is Ruffles, who drives a digger. It’s Rubble in the actual programme but I think Ruffles suits the Other Half better.

Motormouth himself is Chase, the police dog.

Then there is Motormouth’s current fascination with another cartoon, Gormiti. This is something he has only experienced through the medium of half a dozen books we found in a discount shop, that and the French, German or Korean versions of the cartoon on You Tube.

I am now Jessica, Lord (yes Lord) of Air. The Other Half is Toby, Lord of the Sea and Motormouth? Well, he’s Nick, Lord of the Earth who can create earthquakes by punching the ground. He has had a fair few bruised knuckles to prove this.

So, on any given day, he can call me by my real first name, mama, Dashi, Jessica or Glider.

I think I’m having an identity crisis.

I’m going to have to write this down for the playgroup staff. Perhaps they should start a wall chart. They’d better make it a big one.

When I take Motormouth to playgroup now he rushes into the middle of the room, catches the eye of whichever “Aunty” is in there and declares at the top of his voice “Good morning Aunty, I’m here to learn!”

Feedback from the second week?

He’s still full of questions isn’t he? Yep.

He’s quite bright isn’t he? That’s nice to know rather than just suspect.

He’s very polite isn’t he? Pleased about that, the constant reminders are working.

He had cucumber for a snack today.

Nope. Still don’t believe that one.


V is for Vehicles

They breed at night...I might have mentioned before but whenever our son is home our living room floor looks like the car park at Bluewater when all the drivers are still half cut (not that anyone would drive there whilst still drunk I’m sure).

He has an obsession with wheels and vehicles in general and displays quite an alarming sense of understanding about their purposes.

I say alarming because whenever he comes out with something along the lines of “I need to put the stabilisers down before I raise the ladder” I have to review what we’ve said recently, just in case he might have understood something we were hoping he wouldn’t have. (It’s quite depressing really, I was hoping we would get more than a couple of years before we had to start spelling things out over his head.)

He is also very quick to correct me if I’m wrong. He knows the difference between a digger and a back loader, a tipper truck and a flat bed. The most I know is how to spell them but I’m finding I’m having to learn quickly because he looks to the nearest adults as being the fount of all knowledge.

I haven’t quite got to the stage where I have taken out a book on construction vehicles and how they work, but I have taken a quick look while he is occupied with something else in the library.

It does come in useful sometimes, those little bits of normally useless knowledge that lodge in my brain so much more effectively than the stuff I really ought to know, like my mother’s birthday. Only sometimes though.

I’m sure it would happen more if I went to more pub quizzes.

Oh, yeah, that means going out doesn’t it.



Grampy Grumpy and Nana Nanaki Come to Visit


Grampy Grumpy and Mini

Grampy Grumpy and Mini

We’ve had visitors from San Francisco this week, specifically Grampy Grumpy and Nana Nanaki. It’s been over a year since Grampy Grumpy last visited, in fact, Mini was only a few days old, but Motormouth remembered him well.

We’ve always been keen about the kids seeing family members, especially grandparents, as often as possible. They see Nanny Nutjob most weeks, Nanny J and Nandad R at least once a month and Grandma Lani two or three times a year, but it’s different when the grandparents in question have travelled thousands of miles.

Motormouth is old enough to hold a conversation and Mini is still at the watch and point stage, so I’ve been able to sit back and watch how they interact.

It’s been interesting.

For one, Motormouth has decided that they are the special people who deserve to have everything explained to them. In great detail. He tells them things that he doesn’t bother telling us, and has such a real story-teller way about him that means they are struggling to work out what is real and what is imagination.

They have just about got their heads around the fact that he refers to me as Dashi and the Other Half as Kwazii. (We had to explain Octonauts to them and I think they’re still a little bit confused). Mini is still Tunip.

Now they are having to work their way through the intricacies of toddler logic when Motormouth jumps from “jellyfish don’t live in the river because it’s the wrong sort of water” to “it’s good to eat bland food when you have a poorly tummy”. Admittedly some of these are responses to prompts for discussion provided by the victims, but it can be a little disconcerting when he takes it to a whole new level.

Even those of us experienced in the verbal sparring that takes place can get caught out.

“Dashi, is the moon following us?”

“No sweetie, it’s just sort of hanging there in the sky.”

“No it’s not. It’s spinning around the earth.”

Well that told me. And a visit to the planetarium told him. About two months ago.

It was a pretty impressive moon though. And I’m still trying to remember if I said anything I might regret in the last… oh, I don’t know… three years? (The statement about bland food was mine.)

Back to the provision of information. Watching Motormouth update Grampy Grumpy and Nana Nanaki gives a little glimpse into his priorities.

Learning to put his new tractor together.

What Mini has learnt to do.

Which nee naws he was playing with before breakfast.

How he cut his hand when he fell over by the river. (When asked for details, he claimed he’d tripped over an octopus.)

These are all things that loom large in the life of a small boy and seem trivial, but when you look at them in more detail, show what he is really concerned about.

New skills he is developing; the pride he has in his little sister and his role in helping her learn and develop; the recent trauma of what is probably the worst injury he has had in his whole life; and fire engines.

When you think about it, isn’t that the sort of thing we are all concerned about at heart?

Except the fire engines.

Oh, all right.

Including the fire engines.



F is for Fire Engines

Fire Engine Ready!

Fire Engine Ready!

And police cars and ambulances and diggers and cranes and trains and pretty much anything with wheels.

Our son is obsessed with them and he knows an awful lot about them for someone who is only three. He can and does regularly correct me on the technical details.

On one memorable occasion, I was trying to keep him occupied while we were in a traffic jam and I said “oh, look, there’s a tow truck!” I never knew someone that young could give withering looks, but he did. There was a sigh and a world weary tone to his voice as he said “No, mummy. That’s a flat bed with a car on it going to the chief mechanic to be repaired.”

That’ll teach me for underestimating him.

His obsession is handy on long journeys. We can play spot the lorry, emergency vehicle or digger. Being stuck in roadworks, provided he can see the machines, is his idea of heaven. It’s a real bonus if they have work being done at motorway service stations, which seems to happen so often these days, because he can stop and have a really good look at them. I have noticed that the drivers are particularly child friendly and he will be happy for hours (which is a seriously long time for a toddler) when a driver waves at him with the digger bucket.

This obsession extends to toys and it’s not uncommon to have to wade through various cars, bits of train track and other items to get across the room, no matter how many times you tidy up during the day. It can be hazardous to health so we have adopted a sort of  ‘shuffle your feet along the ground’ mode of walking. (This will already be familiar to cat owners.)

Finally, how could I forget the noise. If the toy itself doesn’t make noise, he will quite capably make up for it.

At high volume.

Someone once told me that toddler’s don’t learn to control the volume until they are about four.

Five months and counting…



D is for Drawing

It's a fire engine - honest!

It’s a fire engine – honest!

Anyone who knows me knows I cannot draw.

My highest mark in an art exam was when we were allowed to do some preparation. I traced the outline of an animal skull and cut it out. Painted the top half of a piece of paper blue and glued sand on the bottom half, plonking the skull in the middle (the theme was heat).

But… Motormouth thinks I can draw. We have regular requests for a variety of subjects and we even have themes. When he’s a water mood I get to draw whales, squid, fish, mermaids and boats. Lots and lots of boats. I draw aeroplanes and helicopters and dinosaurs and helicopters on dinosaurs. It might only be recognisable to a three year old (and sometimes not even then) but it is something we can do together. It’s that sharing thing again. When you work with someone with the attention span of a crane fly on espresso you take what you can get.

And you know what? He’s always pleased and grateful that I’ve drawn it for him, and whilst he’s too young to understand, or appreciate, all the stuff we do for him that makes life safer and better, it’s that little sign that he understands you want to do good things for him that make it worthwhile. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the buses, trains, birds and fire engines).

Oh, almost forgot, I get brownie points for sneaking down in the middle of the night and drawing his favourite Octonauts character on his blackboard.