Hold my hand a little longer

Hold my hand a little longer
It used to keep you calm
If I let you grab my finger
In your chubby little palm

Hold my hand a little longer
When you took your early stumbles
You clutched my thumbs for balance
and I’d catch you if you tumbled

 Hold my hand a little longer
Like your first time down the slide
And later when you screamed aloud
On that scary fairground ride

Hold my hand a little longer
When we were in a crowded place
I’d keep you close beside me
So I knew that you were safe

Hold my hand a little longer
Though you said that you were “fine”
I’d feel your tiny fingers
As they crept inside of mine

Hold my hand a little longer
It’s different from before
Now it’s me who’s reaching
You don’t need it anymore

Hold my hand a little longer
However much you grow
Hold my hand a little longer
I’m not ready to let go

 Emma Robinson 2017 

Packed Lunch

Packing school lunch is quite tricky
Getting it right’s no mean feat
Between food that will pass the school guidelines
And stuff they will actually eat

The school says no chocolate or sugar
And definitely nothing with nuts
My kids say no yoghurt or salad
and make sure you cut off my crusts

I pointlessly pack them an apple
Though I’ve learned many times to my sorrow
It comes straight back home and I wash it
Then pack it back in there tomorrow

The sandwich, at least, is straightforward
‘til I realise I’ve no ham or cheese
They’re delighted to get jam or honey
Whilst I’m praying that nobody sees

Once I dreamed I would make lovely lunches
Pots of hummus with crisp carrot sticks
But my healthy-kids-cookbook frittata
Is “disgusting” and makes them “feel sick”

Even worse, their tastes keep on changing
So the playing field’s not even level
This week, raisins are like manna
The next, they’re the food of the devil

So I’m giving it up altogether
No more filling lunchboxes for me
From tomorrow they’re having school dinners . . .
But what will I make them for tea?

Emma Robinson 2017

“You won’t get Ice Cream.” (Disciplining your child in public.)

Even with the most perfect children in the world, there comes a time when they need to be told off. When you’re at home, this is pretty straightforward. You tell them not to do something and they either (a) stop doing it and life carries on as normal or (b) continue to do it whereupon you lose your mind/take away privileges/send them to their room before your head explodes.

When they start to misbehave in public, however, it’s a whole other ballgame. Because now you have multiple agendas. You need to discipline your child, restore acceptable behaviour as quickly as possible, and ensure that everyone in the near vicinity sees that you are a GOOD PARENT.

This is made even more important if you happen to be with a ‘friend’ who likes to spend most of the time your child is running around the table like a gnome on acid telling you how well behaved their own child is. Whilst the much-quoted child does indeed sit still and eat like she’s having tea with Queen Elizabeth.

On a good day, when your children have not decided that your public humiliation is the order of the day, you can get away with half-hearted requests like “Come on now”, “That’s enough”, “Stop it please.” And they, after a last shout/run/wrestle, will comply for a while, leaving you free to carry on with whatever you were doing. However, for reasons best known to themselves, there are days when they will not play ball. Thus the process begins.

Step 1: Cajoling

In the beginning, you are still living in hope that this is not going to be one of those days. Your tone is light, even jokey, and you are able to smile as you work through all the parenting strategies at your disposal. You might attempt some redirection “Why don’t you come and do some colouring?” or bribery “If you sit still for another ten minutes you can have some plastic crap from the machine on the way out.” When they seem as interested in this as a plate of broccoli, you have no choice but to move to Step Two.

Step 2: Firm

You are still in control, using the positive language you learned from that episode of Supernanny and still demonstrating to everyone in the vicinity that you are a GOOD PARENT. Strangely, you begin to refer to yourself in the third person: “Mummy is getting very cross with you now” as if you have become the narrator of this scene rather than one of the main players.

The longer they are unresponsive to your attempts at gentle discipline, the more abrupt your commands become. Thus the end of this stage is usually marked by one-word sentences. “Will. You. Stop. Doing. That. Now.”

Step 3: Threat (low level)

Now it starts to get serious. You make your voice a little lower. Because, after all, your parenting skills are being judged by complete strangers and your Perfect Parent ‘friend’. Low level threats vary from the immediate (“You won’t get ice cream”) to the longer term (“No Cbeebies for a week.”)

At certain times of the year, you can call in reinforcements. One of my friends stored her husband’s mobile on her phone with the name Father Christmas and would show her son that she was actually calling him. Genius.

Step 4: Threat (major)

This is the final stage and is usually hissed through gritted teeth. The threats become all-encompassing and impossible to carry through. “If you don’t sit down right now and eat your dinner I will give away every toy you own and every toy you will ever be bought in the future.” Or even more wildly unbelievable: “I won’t let you stay at Nana’s house at the weekend.”

By this stage you have given up all pretence of control and, similarly to the later stages of childbirth, you no longer care who is watching. You have one aim only. To leave as quickly as possible.

Step 5: Home

After Step 4, you have nowhere to go. Except home. Whilst this may feel like defeat, there is a certain amount of relief as you are welcomed back to the prospect of a bedroom you can send them to and a fridge whose comforting contents you can consume.

As you shut the kitchen door and cry into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, it is important to remember this:

You may have lost the battle. But you are the one with the ice-cream.


Time, it waits for no man.
At least, that’s what they say.
It’s measured out in hours:
Twenty-four in every day.
But since I’ve had my children,
I have learned that time can bend.
And I’ve realised quite quickly;
Father Time is not my friend.

He’s a bugger in the mornings
when we have to get to school.
We’re up at dawn, with tons of time.
Oh I am such a fool!
When will I learn, that six ‘til eight,
the hours drag like years.
But the half hour ‘til 8.30?
In a flash it disappears.

He loves to make the minutes stretch
when most I pray for speed.
Like in the supermarket queue
and during Kids TV.
Or when waiting at a restaurant
for our dinner to be brought.
It’s like he wants to stretch my nerves
until I’m really fraught.

But here’s the real conundrum:
though the minutes can go slow –
The months and years are skidding by
as the children quickly grow.
They change before my very eyes,
baby days just disappear.
How can those snail slow minutes
have so quickly brought us here?

So Father Time, I beg you,
Stop your clock from ticking fast.
I’ll never get these days again,
And they’re going much too fast.
If I promise not to swear at you
When bedtime takes three hours.
Will you give me a little longer,
to love these babes of ours?




Dear Father Christmas . . .

I know it’s December,
And you’ve lots to remember,
But I’d like to run over some things.
My kids sent you a letter
And it’s probably better
If I tell you which toys NOT to bring.

I know they were smitten
By a small little kitten,
But please don’t bring them a pet.
They really don’t need it,
I’m too busy to feed it,
And I can’t face the trips to the vet.

They don’t need more dolls,
Or funny-haired trolls,
And please nothing with lots of small bits.
Nothing noisy like drums,
Or with pressable tums,
Which make sounds that get on my . . . nerves.

They want things to make
But please, for my sake,
Don’t bring stuff that just makes a mess.
You might question this ban,
But you must understand,
I already have craft-induced stress.

They may ask for a game,
And if it’s all the same,
Can you find one with rules we can learn?
If it requires us to look,
At a very long book,
We will give up before our next turn.

Lego’s on the list
And that can be missed
Because, though I’m reluctant to moan,
We’ve bought tons of the stuff,
And they now have enough,
To build a small house of their own.

You may think me cruel,
For imposing these rules,
That it’s Christmas and I should be fair.
So I will give in,
If you bring me some gin,
Then by teatime I’ll no longer care.

Mummy Power

“Mummy, I am poorly,”
A cry cuts through the air.
Pulling my head from the pillow
Under my breath, I swear.

I know she cannot help it,
To be woken by ill health.
But I’m tired from working late last night
And I want to cry myself.

We settle down upon the couch
She wants me just to hold her.
The arm is digging in my back
And my head‘s propped on my shoulder.

In minutes she is back to sleep,
Her drowsy head is hung.
(So heavy laid upon my chest,
It might collapse my lung.)

But though I’m still exhausted,
And my mood’s a little sour,
I lay my cheek against her head
And wonder at my power.

It won’t always be this easy
For such comfort to impart.
Disappointments? Failures?
Perhaps a broken heart?

Right now I have the magic
To make everything alright.
And for that, I should be thankful –
Even in the dead of night.

So, as she snores softly
And elbows me in the chest,
I enjoy my mummy power.
For now, I am the best.

Emma Robinson 2016


The Mum Olympics

Seen games for World and Commonwealth
and all the many others?
Now join us for an Olympics which is ‘specially for mothers.

First we have the sprint event,
Mum and trolley on the blocks.
In under 15 minutes, they must do the weekly shop.

Then the middle distance run
will start with a loud hooter.
As the mothers chase a three year old let loose upon his scooter.

The throwing events have been replaced
with catching skills instead.
So, a discus full of dinner will be launched at mummy’s head.

The high jump’s always popular
(as all children would expect)
because mums across the country threaten they’ll be for it next.

Now get behind this mummy
I want to hear you bellow.
As she breaks the long jump record across a room that’s spread with Lego.

If it rains, please go inside
and watch the wrestling mums.
Trying to change the nappies of some very wriggly bums.

The weight events are also there.
How much is that woman lifting?
Bags and toys and a two year old, from hip to hip she’s shifting.

The games are drawing to a close;
The winner has her cup.
She’d love to stop and rest a while but her baby just woke up.

That ends today’s Olympics,
but don’t be filled with sorrow.
Most mums do these things every day, so just come back tomorrow!

Now That I’m Five

Now that I’m five, I can choose what I wear,
Clean my own teeth, decorate my own hair.
My style is my own and I couldn’t care less,
If you don’t think my wellies match this summer dress.

Now that I’m five, I can pour my own drink.
And if you do it first, I will kick up a stink.
Don’t you know that I’m FIVE and can do it alone?
I’m not a baby, look how much I’ve grown.

Now that I’m five, I can jut out my hip.
Wrenching my hand from your desperate grip.
You try to take over, but I know what to do.
I can make it myself without guidance from you.

But . . .

Though I want to see every place on the map,
I don’t want to give up my space on your lap.
Whilst I want you to leave me to climb high and tall,
I need you to be there to catch if I fall.

And maybe you could help if I get in a muddle.
Plus, when I am sleepy, I might need a cuddle.
I still want to creep to your bed in the night.
And run to your arms if I’m given a fright.

And I know that sometimes your patience I test,
But in the whole wide world, I still love you best.
So, even though I’m five, I was wondering maybe –
Could I be a big girl, but still be your baby?

Emma Robinson 2016


Parenting in the 22nd Century: inventions which would make me a fortune

I often marvel how parents fifty years ago managed without wet wipes. How they navigated a busy shopping centre with a buggy whose wheels only faced forwards. Pinned a wriggling child into a nappy without shedding blood. Shopped without electronic devices to distract the small people.

In another fifty years, there will probably be another raft of new inventions designed to make parenting that little bit easier. If James Dyson or any other clever inventor-types are reading this, I would like to put in a request for the following:

1. A child-activated “Flush the toilet, Wash your hands” sign

In my imagination, this would be linked to the handle of the bathroom door. As soon as the child puts their hand onto it, it would activate a sign which lights up and flashes a message which reminds them to flush and wash. Possibly, there could also be a speaker for younger children who can’t yet read.

In more extreme cases of obstinate non-hand washers, the door could be locked and would only be able to be opened by hands which are scanned and found to be bacteria free.

2. The Mum Stun Gun

My kids like to run. Or hop, jog, skip, whatever. They like to move quickly. Which means I spend a good proportion of my time calling for them to stop or come back. Due to my naturally loud voice (a benefit as a teacher, not so good in libraries) this usually means everyone else in the vicinity turns too and is thereby a witness to my lack of parental control.

With a Mum Stun Gun, I would be embarrassed no more. One blast would freeze them in their tracks; no yelling required. This invention would, of course, be completely painless and harmless (I’m not suggesting we Taser our children) and would merely freeze them to the spot until I could catch up and clamp a hand onto them

3. A Mind Reading Helmet

You know those times when you make them their favourite dinner only to be told that they don’t like sausages anymore? Or they are crying relentlessly because you have/haven’t done something but you haven’t got the foggiest idea what that might be? The Mind Reading Helmet would banish these issues from your life. Just pop one onto their head, and another onto yours, and within seconds you will have the answer you are looking for.

(Disclaimer: effective use of this product is dependent on the child actually knowing what the hell it is they actually want.)

4. The Pair Alarm

How many parent hours are wasted every year searching for a lost shoe? How many pounds spent buying new pairs of socks to replace the multitude of odd ones which seem to loiter in the underwear drawer? A simple tag on every shoe, sock, glove which beeped when it was more than a metre from its partner would solve the problem forever.

5. A Time-Controlling Clock

I know I am asking the impossible on this one, but how good would it be if we could speed up time whenever we wanted to? In a long queue at the supermarket with a crying baby – fast forward 15 minutes. Packing up your camping gear in the pouring rain watching your offspring get muddier by the second – fast forward four hours. Husband calls to say he will be late home from work and the kids are driving you doolally – set the Time Controlling Clock to 15 minutes past bedtime and pour yourself a drink.

Ideally, the clock would work the other way too. So when you watch them sleep and your heart contracts at how long their legs have got, or you watch them playing happily together, or you spend one of those perfect family days when you are grateful for every single moment – the clock could be used to slow time down, or even to pause it for little while.

And if you can invent that, every parent would pay you a fortune.

Give me a child until he is seven . . .

Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man – Aristotle c.300 BC

Next week my boy will turn seven and, according to Aristotle, he will already be displaying a lot of the elements of the man he will become. When I look at him now, there are very few traces of my small, blonde, round-faced baby and I wonder how much of this wiry, energetic creature before me will remain into adulthood.

Even with his growing similarity to my husband (just watch either of them explaining something whilst pacing up and down with their hands in their pockets) it’s hard to picture William as a grown up. I’m assuming that post-18 he isn’t going to climbing into bed with his parents, filling his pockets with stones and random bits of string or spending hours in the garden making potions from leaves and water. For the sake of anyone he has to share a house with, I hope that he will also not continue to get undressed by walking across the room dropping items of clothing from his body wherever they may fall. And, when he goes to work, it will probably be best if he doesn’t approach a tricky problem by first throwing himself dramatically to the ground professing that he’ll “never be able to do it!”

But there are many parts of his character which I hope are here to stay.

The ease with which he makes friends by approaching everyone he meets saying, “Hi, I’m William.” His ability to completely lose himself in a book and need to share a ‘really funny bit’ by reading it aloud. His relaxed attitude towards material possessions – being just as happy with a sheet of paper that he can fold into a ‘Space Worm’ as he would be with an expensive toy. His quick apology when he does something wrong.

I hope he continues to have a generous spirit, retaining his readiness to share anything he is given with his sister. That his thirst for knowledge and his refusal to accept an answer that he knows is wrong will make him a discerning and thoughtful human being. His gentleness with tiny creatures, his big heart which makes him want to send his toys to the children on the charity adverts, his willingness to laugh at himself are all personality traits which I hope will stay with him forever.

Up until now, much of William’s character has been influenced by us, our families and the friends we choose to let him play with. As he gets older, those influences will be less under our control. He will choose his own friends, the places he will go, the activities he will spend time on. In another seven years he will be two years into teenager-hood with raging hormones to add into the mix. What changes will we see and what will remain?

Aristotle believed that the first seven years of a child’s life are vital, formative years which lay the foundations for their adult personality.

When I look at our William at seven, I hope that he was right.

Happy Birthday Beautiful Boy x