Like most mothers, I turn into Xena Warrior Princess if anyone so much as thinks about hurting my children; a fully grown bear would hesitate to take me on when I’m in rabid-mother-defending-my-children mode. Unless…
You see, I have this weird sense of humour and when I get the giggles at something, all thoughts of being a protective mother go out the window. Instead, Mama Bear turns into a doubled over, weak-kneed, helpless-with-laughter toddler, unable to communicate, gasping for breath while tears of laughter roll down her face. While I thoroughly enjoy a good belly laugh, my children get a bit grumpy about the whole thing if the laughter is at their (or worse, their friends’) expense.
When my youngest daughter, Keeley, got a new pony, I took her into the arena to safely take the pony through his paces and get used to him. The pony was an energetic little thing (read: really naughty), so she trotted him round the arena a few times until she felt confident enough to push him into canter. This was when we discovered that he had quite a bouncy canter. Pretty soon, Keeley began to bounce in the saddle, small bounces at first, but unfortunately, with each bounce, the pony went a little faster, so Keeley’s bounces got bigger, and the pony went faster, and Keeley bounced even higher, until eventually, the pony was at a flat gallop, tearing around the arena, and I could see about three feet of daylight between Keeley and her saddle.
I tried to help her, I really did, but I simply couldn’t speak. I stood in the middle of the arena, holding my sides, in helpless fits of laughter with tears rolling down my face, my older daughter yelling at me to get a grip and help Keeley, but I was too far gone. Finally, Kira climbed into the arena and began instructing her sister while I slowly got my act together again.
There was another time when I took my two boys to a preschool gymnastics morning at a local gym, where they learned to launch themselves off springboards and swinging ropes into huge pits of foam. The boys had a great time, right up to the point where my eldest landed head first in the foam and couldn’t turn himself the right way up. All I could see were two legs sticking up into the air and waving round. All nurturing, caring mother thoughts flew right out of my head and I collapsed in a heap of helpless, crying laughter while his teacher helped turn him upright.
When I was very young, my grandmother came to look after me while my mum was in hospital having my brother. We lived in the countryside, high up a steep hill, and my school was at the bottom of this steep hill, down a tarmac road and then further down a steep gravel driveway. Granny was a prim and proper city girl, complete with city clothes and city boots. She was always perfectly dressed and coiffed, the kind of person who made her only granddaughter (me) walk around with a book on her head so that she had the correct deportment. She was definitely fighting a losing battle trying to get me to behave like a lady, I can tell you: I was a tomboy to the tips of my fingers.
Granny and I were walking to school this cold, frosty morning, the snow was quite thick, the salt trucks had been out to try to clear the roads, but the slush had frozen overnight and there was black ice everywhere. As we started down the hill, it became clear than Granny’s nice, smooth soled, high heel, ankle boots weren’t the best shoes for the job of walking down a long, steep, icy hill and she began to slide further and further and faster and faster with each step she took, until eventually, she was skiing sideways from one lamppost to the next, desperately aiming herself at her next safety stop before she let go of the one she was currently holding.
I’ll be completely honest with you here: five-year old me laughed so much that I almost wet my pants. I remember having to run (in my very grippy, nice and warm, rubber-soled boots) down the hill to school and straight into the girls’ bathroom.
I haven’t thought of this before, but I wonder how Granny got back up the hill?