Two poems in one month! Well it is National Poetry Month. Whilst I planned to write ‘The Tale of the Vitae Plant‘ this one I did not, it sort of just popped into my head. As a teacher I have had a few weeks off with my Wife and kids. Whilst I love the time we spend together, having children can be draining. This poem came to me as a lot of different rhyming couplets and then I popped them all together. There was actually very little thought involved. It is kind of a snapshot of my life as a Dad. I hope it resonates with other parents and they do not feel so alone in their struggles. As usual you can read it below or go to wattpad and my collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.‘ Enjoy….
Parenting (or I love you but please leave me alone for five minutes)
I know that you are my life
But sometimes you just cause me strife
Your questions really get me down
Why is the sky blue and the earth brown?
You are the apple of my eye
So why is it you must defy?
All the rules that I set
And no we are not there yet
The washing machine is going again
I think we’re on load number ten
I’m sure you’ve got more clothes than me
Your t-shirts number fifty-three
I thought I’d washed them all by now
But the laundry basket’s full somehow
How much TV do you want to view?
When I turn it off you look so blue
I have the theme tunes in my head
They go round and round when I’m in bed
Let’s go outside and play with sticks
Now put that down and stop those tricks
Just leave your sister alone
Hang on how did she get my phone?
Oh I see she started it
You both sap my energy bit by bit
I read this book the night before
It really is starting to bore
I read The Gruffalo a million times
Now I can remember all the lines
I keep reciting it in my head
If it’s not your music it’s that instead
To get you dressed takes a whole day
You just roll over and crawl away
We started getting ready at half past eight
It’s gone eleven and now we’re late
Why are you tantruming today?
Because in the cat litter I won’t let you play
Or eat that dirt off the floor
Or we have to leave we can’t play more
I remember when I had a book
In every cranny and in every nook
When I could read or watch TV
When I used to really be free
Now there is no space in this home
Because all your stuff is thrown
Across the floor and piled on the shelf
If I sold it all I’d have some wealth
Some you haven’t touched for a year
If I had my way it would be out on its ear
I was just going to throw that away
But with it you have started to play
How many toys do you really need?
You have horses in every colour and creed
Batman, Spider-Man, Thomas and Friends
This glut of stuff never ends
Then your relatives come around
And now there’s even more abound
Your Mum and me, we used to speak
Now we just nod when we greet
We look into each other’s eye
And wonder how we will survive
The romance really is quite dead
How do we get through so much bread?
Did you actually hear that rumbling?
It sounds as if your bottom’s grumbling
I am pretty sure we shouldn’t yet
Have farts louder than a jumbo jet
And when I try to have a wee
You suddenly appear just behind me
Can I have some space, however brief?
To do a poo or brush my teeth
I’ve got a cold I think I’ll drop
But you don’t care you just won’t stop
You just keep saying look at this
To jump a bit gives you so much bliss
I just want to have a rest
But my patience you must test
My shoulders are starting to ache
Just get off I need a break
I don’t really want to be a train
A boat, a horse or a climbing frame
How much snot can you produce?
We really must learn to reduce
The amount of tissues we are using
If only you would stop refusing
To let me wipe your button nose
It really just adds to my woes
I’m sure that fish cake was just mine
It really did look divine
Now it’s in your mouth of course
You’re eating it without remorse
You liked spaghetti the other day
We don’t eat shepherd’s pie that way
Oh look it’s now all down your top
This messiness has to stop
Can you sit on your chair properly?
You’ll hurt yourself and then it’s me
That has cuddle and comfort you
Oh you’re grumpy because you need a poo
Just get down, to the toilet run
Your tea will be here when you’re done
It took you ten minutes to get there
Now you’ve done it in your underwear!
I know when you don’t want more
Because you throw it on the floor
I’m just glad that we’ve got a pet
That’ll hoover up if I forget
And when I get five minutes free
I go and collect cold cups of tea
They seem to be dotted all around
In places they should not be found
In the bathroom, by the toaster
There’s even one behind the sofa
When you finally go to sleep
I tell myself I’ll have a treat
Because the days been a rollercoaster
I’ll just fall asleep on the sofa
It’s time to sleep not bounce on bed
But, “I love you,” you just said
Now I really want to cry
Your so sweet and you do really try
To be good and nice and wonderful
On my heartstrings you can pull
A cuddle, kiss and then goodnight
To lose you would give me a fright
I do this again every day
Because I love you more than I can say
As any parent of small children knows, a copious amount of picture books is essential. Not to keep your little one entertained (they will devour the same book over and over again!) but to stop adults having the monotonous boredom of reading the same story over and over. Seriously, it is us parents that need new picture books not the kids! As someone who has written and illustrated a children’s picture book and is working on another one I thought I would do a post about some of the books me and my wife love to read to our little boy. Yes your Gruffalos, Meg and Mogs and Hungry Catapillars are must haves but the ones below are those little gems that are hidden away in row upon row of generic samey stories. I do find most children’s books have predictable uninspiring stories and are not actually that well written but quickly rushed out to make a bit of money. I am not saying this is a guide to good children’s pictures books, more the style that we like…
Baby Blue Egg by Mij Kelly and Mary McQuillan
We picked this one up cheaply as an ex-library copy. My wife had a quick look and it seemed funny. When we read it to our boy he loved it. It is about a little egg that starts to hatch and is off to find who his mother is when he suddenly gets chased by a scary dinosaur. He bumps into different friendly dinosaurs who are each a different colour. The rhyming is really good and it helped our son learn his colours. There is also a twist at the end which is obvious to an adult but adds some excitement for the little ones. It has been ready many times so far.
Yawn by Nick Sharratt and Sally Symes
I bought this when I knew we had a child on the way for its simple language and clear images. It has a big mouth shaped hole running through it and is basically the story of Shaun who does a yawn that is given to different animals. Again there is good rhyming throughout and, when he was old enough, our son could tell you who the yawn was going to next. It is nice because each page ends with, “Guess who he/she gave it to?” then the next animal appears on the following page. We have moved away from this but it was great when our boy was learning animals names and sounds.
Oi! Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field
We don’t actually own this one, we borrowed it from the library but it was an instant classic. It is about a frog that wants to sit on something soft but is told by a cat, who is a stickler for the rules, that frogs sit on logs. The book is all about the frog saying, “so what does a…sit on?” and naming different animals. The cat tells him and they all rhyme leading to some animals sitting on some funny things. The twist at the end is particularly humourous too. We did buy it for a friend’s child but have not purchased a copy for ourselves yet.
There’s an Ouch in My Pouch! by Jeannie Willis and Garry Parsons
As the boredom of old books sets in we have started to buy second-hand books from charity shops. We saw this and grabbed it quickly. Willaby Wallaby has been kicked out of his mother’s pouch by a terrible ouch and now he is throwing a wobbly. The story revolves around him finding other marsupials and them offering their pouches but they are all wrong somehow. In the end we finally find out why he has been kicked out of his own pouch. It is nice because it is set in Australia and introduces loads of new animals to discuss. I will say this though, it is a tongue twister of a book so look through it a few times before reading out loud to your children.
Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson and Karen George
There is a reason that Julia Donaldson is such a renowned children’s author. The books she has created with Axel Scheffler and Nick Sharratt are classics, but the amazing thing about her is that her lesser known books are really good too. I recently discovered Rosie’s Hat at the library but the one we have that is great is Freddie and the Fairy. We actually got this in the 4 for £5 offer in The Works. I find most books in that offer are that mushy pulp that try to teach morals and are pretty badly written or simply not entertaining enough, but if you sift through you do find some classics. In Freddie and the Fairy, Freddie saves a hard of hearing Fairy from a tree and is granted all the wishes he could ever want. Unfortunately Freddie mumbles and the Fairy gets most of his wishes wrong, mixing up his wish with another thing that rhymes with it, such as him getting a frog instead of a dog. It is really nice to read and, much like Yawn, the reveal of what he gets is on the page afterwards so helps the little ones to say what they see. We tend to turn the page and let our son say what is there instead. Freddie does learn the error of his ways and gets what he wants…or very nearly!
I think what this shows is that there are so many children’s books out there you need to sift through a lot of rubbish before you get to the good ones. I think that rhyming and something a little different is best. Something that is either interactive, a little bit silly or allows you to educate your child a bit through them guessing what comes next or learning about colours, shapes or animals makes for better books. You can really get them involved then. I will say this, I laugh at poo and farts but there appears to be a lot of children’s books about this and they are actually not very good. Most are not clever, they are just pretty much saying, “he he, look some poo.” This all makes me realise that writing a children’s picture book is not actually that easy, you need to think about it and move away from the lowest common denominator stuff. You also need to realised that children are not as unintelligent as you may think and the best books should entertain the adults as well.
I was going to add my own book in but that would be a bit self-indulgent (also it is nowhere near as good as the books above!). So there we go, just the sort of books we like to read in our household. I hope that has given you a few ideas if you have, or know, little ones and I hope these are books you haven’t really heard of so they can bring entertainment to other households too.