Tag Archives: vehicles

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.

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

This is it.

This is our opportunity to assume goddess-like status as repairer of broken toys (or god-like, I don’t want to forget any blokes who may qualify for this honour).

And it’s so easy I could almost cry (in gratitude that is).


Most of the toys that are presented with tear-stained and grubby fingers can be fixed by snapping something back into place, whether it’s the fire station door that’s letting in the draft and making poor Fireman Sam feel a little chilly or the spinning barrel thingy on the back of his cement mixer, they can be fixed.

Of course there must be an element of showmanship (or should that be showpersonship?) to make sure there is an air of mystery and almost supernatural skill surrounding us to elicit awed and excited comments like “Thank you mummy, you’re the best”. I’ve even been told I’m the best mummy in the whole universe because I fixed the ladder to the fire engine after it broke yet again.

And that’s the thing isn’t it. We fix the same toys over and over again and we could almost do it in our sleep and we enjoy the adulation that follows it, but isn’t there always a quiet little voice asking us if it isn’t about time we taught them how to do it themselves?

That learning to repair things, and take care of them, is a valuable life lesson.

That we’re, horror of horrors, stunting their development by keeping this task from them?

I’m ignoring that little voice for the moment. I want the positive strokes for just a bit longer.

I need balance you see, because apparently I don’t wipe bottoms as well as daddy does.

Possibly not, but I can make sure Fireman Sam doesn’t catch cold.

And the toys that can’t be fixed? Well the tidy-up fairy takes them away after they’ve sat on the side long enough to be forgotten about, or at least until we have plausible deniability.

All Boxed In

It's a ship! No! It's a race car!

It’s a ship! No! It’s a race car!

If you’ve been watching the Trials and Tribulations Facebook page this week you’ll know that our lives have been filled with boxes.

Or rather, boxes have been filled with us.

Mini and Motormouth have been having great fun playing in the box Motormouth’s new car seat came in and it has been a car, a pirate ship, a rocket, a fort and heaven only knows what else their imagination has turned it into.

All I know is that they have been enjoying it immensely. I’m not so sure the box is, since it is now definitely worse for wear. That might, of course, have something to do with being prodded with drumsticks (Motormouth was making windows) and rocked backwards and forwards pretty vigorously. I’m not sure it will last much longer, but at least it can say it’s had an interesting life.

That could be in the Chinese curse sense of the word from the box’s point of view.

Not that they have been confining themselves to cardboard. A plastic box has also been pressed into service, although being quite a bit smaller it’s been less used.

It got me thinking.

About boxes.

And about kids playing in general.

And their imagination.

I will admit to being slightly envious of their ability to allow their imaginations to fill in any gaps or shortfalls in their playthings.

A big blanket and a few cushions and the box was a fully functioning fort. With a few additions (mainly Motormouth’s toy soldiers and his dinosaurs) it was a well-defended one. A quick change in orientation and it was a television studio where I was treated to a news broadcast. I’m not entirely sure what the news was about, and it was very quick, but that’s not the point.

A few seconds later they were zooming round the race track.

As a writer I know how much work it can be to get your imagination working properly, unfettered by the constant calls on our time. Just as I start working on something, some subconscious cue will nudge me and I’ll be thinking I must remind myself to get loo rolls next time I go shopping, or I need to pay the credit card bill, or I should really check when my library books are due back.

Then I lose the train of thought and have to start over again, which doesn’t strike me as a particularly good use of time.

In the same time, Mini and Motormouth have travelled half-way round the world in a variety of modes of transport (I had to explain what mode meant to Motormouth this morning and just had to get the example in here. His next question was why don’t the forty thieves have to clean their teeth – Aladdin again.). They’ve battled giant dinosaurs (as opposed to the small ones now on perimeter duty around the kitchen door), fought pirates, rescued helpless animals and presented their own TV show.

At least Motormouth has. Mini is content, at present, to just go along for the ride.

It’s true, each episode only takes a minute or so, since Motormouth has the attention span of a crane fly with a caffeine overdose, but when he is there, he is completely there.

Nothing else exists but the fantasy.

Admittedly, if he were an adult this might be a shade unhealthy, but as a child it’s doing him the world of good.

I know he’ll lose this trick as he grows up, truth to tell, I can’t remember when I lost it, but I hope he retains some vestige of the ability to escape into other worlds.

That he or Mini don’t lose the capacity to dream.

That they don’t end up boxed into the thought routines that dog us as adults.

That they don’t have to wait until they have children before they can start to rediscover it for themselves.

In the meantime?

I’ll just have to put up with walking around the pirate ship that’s docked in the living room and try not to step on the sharks.

Or Tic Toc Croc.

H is for Houseproud


H is for Houseproud

H is for Houseproud

This is a bit of a misnomer really. I say this because, no matter how houseproud you were before you had children, you have to let go of at least some of that need to have your house spic and span at all times.

Because it just doesn’t happen.

I say that as I survey what was a nice, tidy living room when I went to bed last night.

Now it’s something less than tidy. Quite a lot less in fact.

Now, I can’t really claim that I have ever been a neat freak, since I am a typical Sagittarian (although I am a bit obsessive about my books, computer files and writing notebooks).

It doesn’t bother me that I haven’t sorted out the pile of newspapers from the last week, or that the shoes are all chucked in a box by the front door, but I wasn’t prepared for what happens when two small children are amusing themselves for more than five minutes. (I know it was that long because that’s about how long it takes me to make a cup of tea and grab a sneaky biscuit – just to keep me going, you understand.)


Well, the dining room shows the remains of a banquet Motormouth and Mini made before they got distracted and decided to move to the living room. This was possibly because I caught them trying to ride the vacuum cleaner (I took the broom away as a clear and present danger for anything more than 6″ above floor level).

Having been thwarted in their rodeo game, they moved to the living room.

I decided it was a good time to sort out second breakfast for them and left them to it for a few minutes. I knew it was time because I was getting “Mummy, I’m hungry!” in both Motormouth and Mini speak.

I have to give them credit for being fast workers. By the time their sandwiches were ready they were happily occupying a fort. I could tell they were taking security seriously as well… they were surrounded by Motormouth’s troops and he was happily directing Mini in deploying his forces.

Then they retreated into the fort (cunningly disguised as the large cardboard box Motormouth’s new car seat had arrived in draped in one of his blankets) to eat their food.

It’s the weekend, so I have been in and out of the room, leaving them to play, whilst doing the washing, the cleaning and so on, and every time there’s something different.

We now have a major traffic jam developing by the living room door, a phalanx of dinosaurs is guarding the route from the kitchen to, well, pretty much anywhere, and the fort has developed an annexe. Motormouth has even turned interior decorator, using what looks like every cushion in the house to make the fort nice and comfy, if a little cosy for the two of them squeezed in there. At least the pillows are still on our bed.

I think.

Mini, in the meantime is hovering around the edge of activities providing musical accompaniment on her drum machine, walker, and, well, you get the idea.

And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

So, as for being houseproud, I decided pretty early on in motherhood that this house is a home for two small children that love, and need, to play. They need the opportunity to shape the world around them to build their fantasies.

So who am I to stand in the way?

No one. I’ve taken a step back and decided that they should have fun and be allowed to express themselves.

So what if I have to do a mini tidy up every hour or so?

So what if anyone attempting to cross the room risks life and limb in doing so?

I’ve decided that I need to make best use of my resources and focus on the important places (mainly where water is present) and the stairs.

And of course, I’ve dissected the phrase “clean and tidy”. Clean I need.


Well, that can wait until they grow up a bit more.

And it just so happens that it coincides with my natural tendencies.

Shame that.

H is for Houseproud




We’ve been playing lots of games recently. We being Motormouth and I.

We’ve had the role playing games for a while (though the Ninja Turtles are a fairly new addition to the stable.) and we all have our assigned roles. The Other Half and I haven’t got our Ninja turtle names yet but at least we won’t get Margherita.

Yes, that’s right Margherita. That’s Motormouth’s name and it’s all my fault.

I can’t help it, the temptation was too great. He asked me what the ninja turtles’ names were and I told him; Leonardo, Donatello, Rafael and Margherita (sorry you got dumped Michelangelo). Sods law and Motormouth chose the name he did. I have tried to explain my joke but he won’t have it.

I’m hoping he will forgive me when he’s older and works it out.

We’ve also been playing mini spotting. Not the baby sister version but the iconic Italian-job vehicles that spin round corners. This is a great game for the keeping him occupied in the car. We have tried emergency vehicles and taxis as well, but minis are the ones that have endured the test of time (well, the last few weeks anyway).

It’s pretty simple. The first one to spot a mini gets a point and when Motormouth gets to the stage where he’s winning we either stop playing or I’m not allowed to play any more.

If I try and carry on I get a world weary “Mummy, we’re not playing it any more.”

Oops, silly me.

This has been an interesting revelation for us as adults. We’ve always worked on the basis that you need to know how to lose gracefully as well as win graciously and we thought it had started to take. Motormouth certainly doesn’t seem to mind when he doesn’t win when he’s playing games with other children.

So is it just when he is playing with us as his parents? Is it that he has the opportunity to set the rules to suit himself and give himself the optimum chance of winning (for optimum read certain)? Or is it a feeling that things should be better for him within the family? He can take the disappointment from the outside world but needs it to be safe and good at home?

He definitely gets upset when he even thinks he is losing.

Does this mean we have to try harder to help him understand that there are some times when he won’t win and needs to suck it up, because life isn’t fair? How do we get the balance in teaching him about equality and fairness whilst still understanding that it won’t always work out that way?

Or should we just let him win for now and accept that we can’t win every time, or even any time?

All I know is that this is complicated and, as with all complicated questions surrounding our children I’m going to take the easy route and go with my gut instinct.

Ooh look! A mini!

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.



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…