Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails


Rock, Paper, Scissors

Mummy, is Egypt the luckiest country in Africa?

Now there’s an opener to a conversation – especially when it’s with a 7 year old who’s sitting in the bath with her brother.

My parents have just returned from holiday in Egypt, ‘topic’ at school this term is “Treasure” with a focus on archaeology and Tutankhamen and harvest activities have looked at those less fortunate than us.  It’s a lot to be whizzing around in your head when you’re 7.

So I try and explain that Egypt isn’t exactly ‘lucky’ and although they do have a degree of infrastructure (shit, need to explain what an infrastructure is) and beautiful things and places that the moment it’s not that great because there’s a lot of arguing going on about who’s in charge.

But they could sort it all out with Rock, Paper, Scissors

This, so it transpires is Year 3’s answer to most things.  They’re not overly sure of what the paper does to the rock, but they’re quite sure that the scissors cut the paper and therefore that will solve most political crises.

I suggest it is possibly a bit more serious than that and so the Cheetah Keeper pipes up with the useful suggestion that perhaps they could solve it all with a penalty shoot out.  Or perhaps a football match with boys vs girls.

I happen to have a reasonable knowledge of trading with Eygpt (fruits of a varied career) including being excluded from emails and being ignored in conversation because I’m female.  Cue explanation of some of the finer points of gender divisions in Egypt.  The Cheetah Keeper absorbed this information and usefully suggested that perhaps the red team should play the blue team instead and whoever wins could run the country.

Little did he know that football in Egypt makes the Manchester derby look like an incredibly sedate game of crown green bowls on a summer’s afternoon in a rural village…

Mummy, does Egypt have a priest?

A priest????????????????????

Like they have in America…

You mean a ‘president’???

Yes, a priest who’s in charge

A president.  Well, in Egypt they used to have a president but he isn’t there any more and they’re arguing about who’s going to be in charge now.  And in America, they’re going to be having an election in November to choose a new one.

The Cheetah Keeper then suggests that they could do rock, paper, scissors or have a football match instead.  His sister notes that in America football isn’t the same as our football.  I try to explain the differences between American Football (running, shoulder pads) and our football – soccer.

It’s decided that maybe a penalty shoot out would be better.  Or maybe rock, paper, scissors.

Politics made simple really.


G’Day…Saturday Is Caption Day

The Australian Ladies Wheelchair Basketball team made it to the finals of the Paralympics.  I’d seen them play in the qualifiers and was back at the North Greenwich Arena (that’s the O2 or the Dome to you and me) for the medal matches.  They’d bought some supporters with them… what’s your caption?


Oh – they got the silver!

Now go and find out what else needs captioning over with Mammasaurus – I wonder if there’ll be anyone riding a stag this week??



I Spy with my Little Eye, Something beginning with M

No, I’m not a week out and posting for last week.


Now mambo, mooch or meander over to  JBMumofOne to see what’s on offer this week…

Mum of One

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Hiding in the Church Hall Toilet

In the last week I have spent way too much time in the Church Hall.   Enough time to require everything that I’ve worn in there to be washed to get rid of that oh so unique smell of dust, damp, sweaty ballet shoes, over-cooked meals for the elderly, smoking candles and assorted toddlers.

Long enough to have seen 2 sunsets, 1 sunrise and a flood in the car park.  Long enough to have eaten both my evening ‘meal’ (ok, M&S salad, time was short), breakfast and a party tea there as well.  And long enough to have resorted to hiding in the toilet.

Thursday night is Brownie night.  23 delightfully over enthusiastic 7-10 year old girls who bounce in like monkeys on some form of ‘upper’ drug.  Their energy and chatter never ceases to amaze me, neither does their stream of completely random questions.  Heaven forbid that you should have the pleasure of their company after a day of wet playtimes at school – having been in all day they are like a pack of coiled springs that fly off in all directions the minute the pressure of conformance is released…  I digress.  Thursdays means an hour and a half tops in the Hall.  It’s doable.

Somewhere along the line I seem to have agreed to helping out at the Brownie Sleepover.  This hellish joyous experience meant the entire Brownie Pack (all 23 of them) plus 2 teenage helpers were to sleep in the Hall on Friday night.  That’s right, 25 girls in one room to ‘sleep’ over.  Arrive at 5.30pm and leave at 9am the following morning.

Now, as you know, I will volunteer for most things however, I draw the line (and it’s a very thick black line drawn with an extremely permanent pen) at being in charge of large groups of other peoples children overnight.  I will help.  I will mop up the bodily fluids.  I will not be in charge.  I will run meetings, I will do the paperwork but this Tawny Owl does not do overnight.

I also don’t like sleeping on the floor.  It does me no good.  I do not pay the osteopath the amount I do to undo all her good work but sleeping on a mat on the Church Hall floor.  I volunteered to be the off-site overnight emergency contact.  I got to ‘sleep’ in my own bed – and said I’d stay on site until the girls went to sleep.  Sleep??  Went to sleep????  Who was I kidding?

I left at 11pm.  ‘Midnight’ feasts had been consumed by 9pm, stories read, lights were out.  Then the toilet trips started.  In the space of 2 and a bit hours, there must have been the best part of 300 toilet trips. It was biologically/physiologically impossible.  They didn’t care.  They pee’d and giggled and giggled and pee’d. Most of them were still awake when I left.  I didn’t sleep much at home – I kept waking up wondering if the phone was going to ring…

I was back on site by 6.50am – principally to get the kettle on for the 4 heroine leaders who’d stayed overnight.  25 over-excited girls running on pure adrenaline (it sure as eggs wasn’t the regenerative power of sleep) required a lot of tea and the patience of an army of saints…  It reached the point where I could take no more (despite a couple of danish pastries) so what did I do?  Dig deep, draw on my years of Guiding experience, push myself to the next level?  No.  I hid in the toilet.  Took a moment (or 5) and regathered myself enough to go and teach them to sign the favourite Little Green Frog in Makaton.  Then I hid in the toilet again and nearly fell asleep.  Classy huh?

For those of you who leave your children in the loving care of the volunteers of the Guide and Scout Associations…this is what it does to us!  And we do it, for free.  As we handed them back to their parents, with fixed grins and wishing them luck for dealing with their over-tired daughter for the rest of the weekend, the words “when we do it next year” were uttered.  We’re planning a different hall this time – with more toilets.

The rest of the day was sponsored by Twinings Earl Grey and Pepsi Max and I admit to raiding the cooking chocolate box.  Just so tired.  It’s like a hangover but worse.  I can do staying up late and getting up early (occasionally) but it’s the graft of looking after 24 kids that aren’t yours, plus 1 of your own.  I took to the sofa.  I was asleep by 9.30, ignoring the amorous intentions of my DH (yeah right darling…)

So how to spend Sunday…? a luxurious lie-in, breakfast in bed, leisurely morning with the papers, F1 Singapore Grand Prix… I can dream.  A mad morning of shopping, homework, family visits and a party for the Cheetah Keeper to attend.  Guess where it was?

Yep.  Back in the Church Hall.  27 hours after leaving, I was back there.

The thing with the Cheetah Keeper and his nosebleeds is that parties are difficult.  I am completely happy leaving a pre-filled syringe of medicine with some hosts, others I’m not.  Yesterday was a ‘not’ day.  I was staying.  I may as well move in.

This party was a joint 6th birthday for two children in the Cheetah Keeper’s class.  It was the first ‘big’ birthday party the parents had ever done.  Both cultural backgrounds meant that the room was full of extended family and friends not doing anything.  The catering operation was phenomenal (and delicious).  The balloon art was eye-watering.  The entertainment for the children was… non-existent.

Not prepared to watch the boys attempt to beat the proverbial out of each other, Tawny Owl took over.  I sorted some games, I split up the fights, I co-opted another mummy (Reception teacher) to help.  I provided the best part of an hour of entertainment.  I got them all sitting down for food.

I enjoyed the grown-up catering and then guess what I did next…

Hid in the toilet.

The parents have yet to say thank you…


Foot In Mouth Syndrome

I’ve suffered from Foot In Mouth Syndrome for pretty much as long as I can remember.  You know, the one when words fall out your mouth without your brain being engaged.  Words that can, despite your best intentions, offend, upset or make you look really stupid.  You’re often acutely aware of what’s just happened (sometimes not) and trying to resolve the situation generally involves digging yourself deeper into the mire.

Other phrases for it include “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”, “says what she thinks” and “reliably honest”.

The syndrome tends to present itself more prominently in times of stress, or when surrounded byidiots other people who believe they know best.   The workplace can exacerbate the syndrome, as can now, the school run and the extra-curricular activity parent waiting area.

I’ve mellowed over time, I really have,  but add pain, tiredness or a dose of hormones into the equation and it starts to bubble up again.  Oh, and maybe a child who has a different agenda to yours…

This morning was a prime example… Another parent announced she was off to ‘have a word’  with the teacher about the fact that homework was being set on a Monday to be handed in on a Friday rather than set on Friday to be handed in on Monday.  Why?  Because her daughter has too many extra curricular activities after school to fit in homework.  So was it possible that the whole school homework policy be changed to accommodate her?

Now in the past, the foot in mouth syndrome would have set in good and proper and a my mouth would have let forth a tirade of abuse honest feedback about how 7 year olds are unable to manage their time on their own and it is indeed up to the parents what they agree to regarding extra-curricular activities.   Just because the darling daughter wants to do something, it is not a necessity.  Oh, and how dare they suggest to school a complete change in policy to deal with their time management issues.

But you know what I did…

I walked away.  I’m still slightly in shock at myself.  Maybe I have the syndrome more under control than I thought.  Maybe I’m become older and more sensible. Maybe I was just reeling in shock.

I didn’t say what I thought.

I’ve just blogged about it instead.

What would you have done?  Am I alone in suffering from this?



Saturday Is Caption Day – Another Seagull One

So there’s a choice here – what’s the boy thinking or, with possibly more captioning material available, what’s the seagull planning?


Now go and find out what else needs captioning over with Mammasaurus – no doubt there’ll be some erm… classics..


Saturday Is Caption Day – The Kitten One

I would like to make it very clear that this is the chosen resting place of said kitten and he was not posed in this in any way (that’s true…)  Despite being pushed around by several small children, he just kept going back in…


Now go and find out what else needs captioning over with Mammasaurus – no doubt there’ll be some classics…