Tag Archives: single mother

A Spider in the Heat of Summer (50 excerpt)


I’ve been typing this diary entry at the computer in the living room and I’ve just dashed to the kitchen to get a mixing bowl whilst having a sweaty panic attack. This is what comes of having to keep all doors and windows open to combat the intense heat. Now I’m trapped and terrified. It’s ten o’clock in the evening. I don’t think I can deal with this enormous monster by myself. I’m not sure what to do.

I’ve just messaged Lindsay to come and save me. I’m desperately trying not to look at the creature whilst at the same time never taking me eyes off it, so I don’t lose it if it runs off. It’s so big. It’s disgusting. It’s making my toes curl. I’ve put an extended umbrella on the floor next to it and laid a chair on its side in order to keep the thing from running under a desk and into a bunch of wires where it would be difficult to get at. On the other side I’ve put three Asterix books on top of each other. I’m trying to box it in. But I won’t be able to get the mixing bowl over it because it’s right up against the side of the bookcase so the angle isn’t right and I could accidentally chop it in half or tear a leg off or something revolting. I’m sweating with fear and trembling all over. I hope Lindsay gets here soon. This is an awful situation. I hate being a single mother and having to deal with spiders.

I’m frozen. I daren’t move, and I’m praying to God that it doesn’t move either, because then I’ll have no choice but to advance on it with the bowl all by myself. But what if it moves when I go and answer the door? How will I keep it in sight if I’m walking away from it?

Oh thank God Lindsay has arrived.

She has just said, “Oh fuck it’s a tarantula. It’s massive. It’s come straight out of the jungle.”

We are both sweating and swearing and wondering what to do. I don’t think she expected something THIS BIG. We’re also desperately trying not to wake the twins, who are asleep in the sauna upstairs.

“I’m naming him Cedric.” Lindsay is staring at it with deep respect.

We discuss optimal methods of approach. We try out different ways to hold and utilise the mixing bowl for when Cedric moves and she needs to quickly ram it down over him.

Now she’s having difficulty getting him into the bowl because the horrible thing won’t move! How loathsome is that? She’s just prodded it, and all it did was shift a leg slightly. Now she’s stabbing at it with the corner of a magazine… and she’s done it!!!! She’s managed it. Oh thank fuck for that. She did yelp and jump backwards, but the deed is finally done. The monster is underneath the mixing bowl.

Jesus, that was so stressful. We are both panting heavily, but at least we can relax for five minutes until we feel strong enough to complete the second half of the task. Time to wipe ourselves down with kitchen roll.

Home Schooling (50 excerpt)

Early April 2020

Question one of the first worksheet the school had sent us to was:

Write the factors of each number in the pairs: 24, 40

The problem with this question was that the children didn’t know what that meant. And neither did I. I don’t know what a factor is, or why there were pairs of numbers and not just one single number. Amy immediately got stressed and started thumping the desk and shouting that she didn’t understand. Jack, on the other hand immediately answered all the questions, wrongly, in about ten seconds flat, then stood up and loudly boasted he’d finished already, waving his paper in our faces. Amy screamed at him to shut up and go away. Confusion reigned. I looked up ‘What is a factor’ on Google, but I didn’t understand the information so couldn’t explain it to the children. Amy started crying and saying she HATED MATHS and was RUBBISH AT MATHS. Jack rubbed out all his work after I told him it was wrong (even I could tell his answers were just random numbers). His ADHD means that he’ll skim read a question and get the meaning wrong, then rush the answers which are themselves all wrong, before he realises he has to start all over again at the beginning by reading the questions properly. He doesn’t do slow and logical. He doesn’t do methodical and careful. And he doesn’t learn from his mistakes because he approaches his school work in this exact same way every single time.

At this point I decided I needed help so I phoned a friend. Lindsay very kindly attempted to explain the question to us via WhatsApp video call. I half understood, but neither of my children did. I then had another go at explaining it to them myself, expanding on Lindsay’s information (third time lucky?) but both children glazed over and interrupted saying it wasn’t making sense. I got cross and told them to keep quiet for GOD’S sake and LISTEN whilst I try to explain. In response Amy threw her pencil across the floor and shouted that she didn’t understand anything. Now I shouted for everyone to shut up and behave. Both of them again repeated how much they hate maths (even though at school Jack used to enjoy maths and do well). Everyone’s stress levels were sky high.

The twins attempted to answer the first question one more time — one crying, the other in a world of his own weirdness and confusion writing down numbers and circling random printed digits on his page (although I didn’t understand why on earth there were numbers printed in the boxes where he was supposed to be writing down the answers). After a few minutes Amy stopped struggling, tears running down her cheeks, and said she still didn’t understand it. But neither did I, so I couldn’t help her. I could only shrug. I noticed Jack was staring out of the window.

Forty-five minutes had somehow passed and it was the end of maths. I marked their ‘work,’ but when I looked at Jack’s paper I suddenly realised I’d accidentally given him the answer sheet instead of the questions. No wonder he already had numbers printed in the answer boxes, no wonder he was confused. I hadn’t noticed before because I thought those numbers were somehow part of the question. That’s how bad my understanding of maths is.

Everyone was unhappy and exhausted. If asked, we couldn’t do the same question again tomorrow because we don’t know how we got the (mostly incorrect) answers this time. How is that teaching? Amy sobbed and ran upstairs. This was the first lesson of the day. I’m simply not equipped to teach maths. I have no training, no ability, no understanding, and I can’t do it. I’m making my children worse at this subject. I never expected to have to be a maths teacher and would never set myself up to be one. I can’t do this alone without the support of school. Jack does have quite a good understanding, but I’m gradually confusing him and undermining his confidence. And with my assistance Amy is solidifying her block against it.