Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: January 2018

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Sharing a Life: A Tale of the Modern Day Family

I was reading this lesser known Julia Donaldson number to my pre- schooler the other evening when I realised that the story is very much in keeping with the magical/horrific first year of parenthood where everyone is very much in love but mostly with the new baby and also a little bit lost in themselves. Thus, another parody was born:

Look! A girl- with low self esteem,
Flirting with all the wrong men.
Tap, tap, tap
"You can't come in!"
You can't share a life with them

Or them
Or them
Or them!

Look! A cad, full of false promises
Run for your life, girl- hide!

At last, a flat, a space of your own!
Quick, girl! Scuttle inside.

Nightclub dancing (obviously)

One girl, safe in her flat,
When all of her dating is done,
Roaming all over the nightclubs
Then back to her home for one.

Look! A boy, a kind handsome boy.
Who can this nice boy be?
"Go away, Boy, whoever you are -
You can't share a life with me."

"I'm pretty awesome, not just nice.
Please let me share your life.
Give me a chance to prove that I care,
And perhaps you will soon be my wife."

The Wedding Day

Look! A job, a career moulding job.
A long distance move- here goes!
He flits to join her, puts a ring on her,
Their life together just flows!

Two friends, sharing a house,
Feeling happy and new,
Romping all over the house parties
Then back to their home for two.

Look! A child thing, trying to get in,
Wiggling and making a fuss.
"Go away, child, whoever you are -
You can't share a home with us."

"I'm not a child, I'm YOUR offspring.
Please let me in - don't be mean,
I love causing chaos; I'll keep you from sleep
You'll know your house used to be clean."

Three friends, sharing a home,
Tired as people can be,
Rollicking all round baby groups
Then back to their wonderful home for three.

But look how they've changed! The home feels too small.
"You're not doing washing" says Wife
"I'm fed up with being stuck in here.
It's time that I found a new life."


"Really!" says Boy. "How ungrateful!"
Here I am, slaving away,
Working to feed our whole family.
If that's how you feel, I won't stay."

"Stop!" cries Child, but nobody hears.
The other two have a grump.
Wife empties a full ice-cream tub.
Boy finds a pub for his rump

Look! A scare, a terrible scare,
Giving everyone a fright
Two people look at each other
Know they were stupid to fight

But, look! A truce, a mutual truce.
Wife and the Kind Boy stare,
Too shy to speak to each other,
Too proud to say, "I was unfair"

Listen! A voice! And out comes a word
From the child wrapped around their necks
"Mama", "Dada" and everything's good
They might even consider some .... special cuddles?


Rhyming with Wine
Naptime Natter

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Grandparents: Heavenly Sent or Hell's Angels?

As per the website top grandparent facts (who knew) include:

  • 1 in 4 working families and 1 in 3 working mothers use grandparents for childcare (that's me)
  • 63% of all grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare (also me)
  • 1 in 5 grandmothers provide at least 10 hours a week of childcare (oh come on!)

I am guilty as charged. I use, abuse and yet am still terrified to lose my mother as my primary childcare giver. I am eternally grateful for the countless journeys she endures traversing Scotland's central belt, for every Tuesday night sleepover and Wednesday of work. I will never be able to convey the relief I feel when leaving my treasured progeny in the care of someone I know, love and trust. Neither will I ever be able to repay the sleepless nights suffered, remove every worry line sustained nor repair every glorious garment blighted by sticky hands. I will forever be in your debt (both emotionally and financially.)

The Mothership taking a turn on the tram

HOWEVER, and here's the thing, I think there is underhanded parental sabotage going on. I suspect someone has been playing the long game, counting the days until they could exact their revenge. Their time is now.

Oh yes, I am on to you mother. 

I know your game. 

The Mother playing the long game

You may have camouflaged your subterfuge in selfless acts, endless affection and the deluge of presents which you rain upon myself and my offspring but don't think me fooled. I can see through your smoke and mirrors. 

Smoke and mirrors

I have charted every misdemeanour and am here to reveal your underhanded ways to the masses:


My mother bought my daughter, at a mere 14months of age, a recorder. Not a flimsy, disposable, free-with-a-magazine type that only makes noise when you manage to expel air at the speed of light but a robust, school issue type that easily emits a shriek so painful that dogs within a 5mile radius will start bleeding from the ears. 

Shame on you.

Shame. On. You.

Many is the time when I have been summoned to join a conference under the dining room table, where I am instructed to inhabit therole (a la Daniel Day Lewis) of Captain Hook to my preschooler's Wendy and toddler's Peter Pan. When I try to interject citing my sheer size, age and inflexibility as a barrier to joining them, I am duly met with the curt response of "Well [your mother] does it!" And there my argument dies (much like my soul).

Inhabiting her role (which one is unclear)

When my daughter is not treading the imaginary boards or sprinkling the world in pink fairy princess dust she likes to bake. I do not bake. My mother bakes. Now, my daughter is not baking with aspirations of being a modern day Mary Berry nor does she find the process particularly soothing. No, my daughter does it so she can lick every utensil, vessel and digit that may come into contact with chocolate based goods and then enjoy the non-fruits of her labour. 

Should you have had to reason with a highly strung and emotional pre-schooler chasing the icing sugar dragon then I know you feel my pain. 

Mother, how could you?

Preparing her "line"

But "why?" I hear you ask. Why would she do such a thing? She is your mother. She loves you and cherishes your children. She was your own protector in infancy and childhood caregiver.  

And there we have it. 

For she has been where I am now. She too, has tried to tame the tyrannical toddler, wrangled with the recalcitrant rebel and valiantly vowed to avenge the vegetable. But where my nemeses are them, I was hers. 
I was the one who deprived her of sleep every night, crawling in to her bed under the cover of darkness and wedging myself between my parents like a teacher at a high school dance. I was the one who picked off an unsightly chicken pox scab and left it floating around the bath for her to fish out like the last bran flake in the breakfast bowl. I was the one who was so overcome by rage at the incessant teasing of a prepubescent persecutor that I stabbed him in the back with a compass leaving her to explain my behaviour to my, rather shocked, primary school teacher. 

How could that face be trouble?

Oh yes, she has suffered and she has waited. Her time is now.

So friends, parents and fellow captives, bide your time, stay strong for one day we shall rise!

But can we be sure to make it at a leisurely hour?
The Mummy Bubble
Lucy At Home

Saturday, 20 January 2018

I am a Bad Parent

Today I am a bad parent. Today I let my toddler down. Her best friend, the one she turns to for guidance and for explanations that her parents clearly cannot give her; the one from whom she seeks counsel and self worth, had a birthday party. And I got the day wrong.

If you don't have children you won't understand this. If you have children and they have multiple interchangeable friends you will feel I am being over dramatic but if you have a child who is so raw with emotion that she cries at the sight of anyone looking anxious or disappointed or, heaven forbid, sad then you may be able to empathise.

I write this knowing that as she sleeps, she is gathering up her energy, dreaming of a day which she thinks will be filled with friends, fun and celebration (read cake) and I have to break the news to her. I need to tell her that it isn't going to happen and you would think at the grand age of 4 that she would have experience with this but I cannot give you another example. I am rootling, scraping and poking around the recesses of my brain for a time when she has had to deal with something similar.

Oh wait.

I remember.

It was the summer of '17 (not as catchy as '69 but just as disappointing) and my daughter was given an unprecedented starring role in the nursery summer show, despite being a mere 3 year old. She had been discovered. She was a star and this was her moment to shine. She was to be the straw-seller in the 3 little pigs show and despite routinely refusing to be clad in anything involving an inner seam she was willing to don a pair of denim dungarees in order to inhabit this role. This was a big thing.

The night before the show I picked her up from the nursery and took her home. She was her normal, chatty, delirious self  relaying all the excitement of the dress rehearsal they had participated in that day but as she took the last bite of her apple (read biscuit) I noticed some red, unsightly bumps on her forehead. I lifted her top, one hand over my eyes, dreading to reveal what I already knew was there. The chicken pox.

I felt sick.

I broke the news, explaining that she was poorly and highly contagious and therefore would not be able to take to the stage. She argued back that it was merely pink dirt and that she would be sick after the show. This was everything she had dreamt of for as long as she could remember, which in toddler life is about a week. She was desolate.

But that wasn't my fault. Sure, I felt keenly for her. I always do. Her heart is like an open wound with every struggle acting like a strong dose of salt, so when I see her crumple it pains me. I feel her pain acutely and curse anyone who is responsible. This time though, I did this. I was responsible. There was an invitation which I misread in haste. No one else was involved and there is no one else to blame.

Tomorrow I have to crush her little heart. I am not looking forward to it.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Advice to my Younger Self Wrapped Up in an 80s Bow

As my youngest edges ever closer to meeting the admissions criteria for the exclusive club of the terrible twos, I realise that in many ways I am emerging into the light having thrown off the shackles of the baby years. With this realisation I have started to think about what I would tell my pre child self were I to be able to go back in time? What nuggets of wisdom would I impart to that naive, insecure and needlessly bored mid twenties self? Except that you should maybe avoid that hairdresser in the West End as she'll give you a shag-come-mullet hairstyle that will take forever to grow out. Being that unsolicited advice is never particularly welcome I decided to wrap it up in an 80s trend gift box to go with your inevitable and highly regrettable haircut, the all important power ballad .You are welcome.


Everyone has heard this old adage before but once you are not actively preventing, you are actively trying to conceive. You'll want to give yourself time, presuming there will be difficulties and you will need to get a year of "trying" under your belt (excuse the pun) before you can secure investigation and intervention with the NHS. Don't be fooled. In retrospect, those two blue lines herald our future within one month and you shall be less than prepared.

You will sit.

For 3 hours.


Just staring.

It will be bad timing what with a new job, a house hunt underway, a husband in training and professional exams looming in the near future but the horse will now be whinnying from the other side of the door as you ham- fistedly try to wrestle with the Yale.

Just staring...


Those three dark haired children (two boys and a girl obviously) that you have always envisioned will disappear in a plume of smoke like a bad magic act. Instead, be prepared for only being able to welcome the two into your family but being lucky enough to watch your affectionate and doting daughter help mould her younger brother into something pretty fantastic.
The Dynamic Duo


You will never be alone. You may think this is sweet and endearing that your beloved cherubs will love you so much that they cannot bear to be parted from your loving embrace. The reality is that there will be full days where you will not get a moment of solitude and this includes bathroom breaks, showers and body hair maintenance regimes. Expect plenty of questions in relation to the afore mentioned activities. You'll start offering to do all the chores that you loathe; gallantly offering to scrub the encrusted dishes until they sparkle like a Fairy advert, cleaning out the wardrobes of all the clothes which you no longer fit and even brandishing the iron from time to time merely so that you can secure a few moments of tranquility away from the barked instructions of your toddler on how to be a good cat owner, when you don't own a cat.

You will NEVER be alone


There may be days when you feel like this. Don't beat yourself up, everyone does even if they don't say it. I realise that in your pre-child naivety you probably think that it is horribly disloyal to your unborn, perfect progeny but it's not that you don't want them it's just that sometimes you crave the hedonistic days of minimal responsibility.

Well that and lie ins. My word, do you crave a lie in.

A toddler is the cruellest of alarm clocks


And by "that" they mean eat any non-beige food groups. I know you live on vegetables and have a remarkably healthy diet free from sugary treats (damn you diabetes) but your children will not be swayed by your behaviour. I know you've been told that they will eat whatever you eat and that it is merely your ability to parent that will prevent this. You are wrong. There is nothing and no one as stubborn as a toddler faced with vegetable.

Good luck to you and God speed.

This paltry portion will go uneaten


Surprises happen (you'll have two of them) and there will be times when things look bleak. You'll think you are prepared for it not to go to plan but in all honesty you will feel sucker punched. Keep going. Once you know, you know and you can start to deal with it. Hope will endure, merely shifting its focus and small triumphs will undoubtedly result. These are the things to cling to in times of uncertainty. Know that if things had worked out differently then you wouldn't have what you have now, and believe me you want what you have now.

Please though, the hairdresser? STAY AWAY.

Stock photos have been used to prevent the humiliation of the innocent

Lucy At Home
Rhyming with Wine
Mum Muddling Through

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

CBeebies: The Hit List

Were I to coordinate a group of assassins to neutralise the key players in the CBeebies organisation undoubtedly to the delight and admiration of my fellow parental associates (who have only gained admission to the alliance by indisputably evidencing their credentials e.g. bare handed poo fishing, scooping baby vomit from soft furnishings and anatomical crevices, regular 3 person showers and not in a good way, etc.) I am pretty sure that I could identify the potential hit list without any need for spontaneously combusting devices or "burn after reading" type instruction. Furthermore, I truly believe that there are potential assassins lurking within the CBeebies programmes who are merely awaiting instruction and would readily eliminate the "marks" at a moment's notice. Let me address the likely targets one by one:

Mark 1
Name: Bing "The Bastard" Bunny

MO: Incessant whining about all things that may not go his way. Classes any abominable behaviour as a "Bing Thing" thereby nullifying any blame that may be placed at his door. Such a deplorable, repugnant rabbit that even his parents failed to form any sort of loving connection with him, abandoning him in his infancy into the care of a stuffed toy. Aforementioned toy is clearly both clinically depressed (note the regular sighs, monotone voice, lack of heartfelt emotion, apathy) and suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome as he is yet to liberate himself despite appearing to be in the charge of the house keys.

Execution: I think Paget is clearly for hire. She has never forgiven the reprehensible rabbit for his pilfering ways after he pocketed that lollipop, professing ignorance over the crime of shop lifting (Thieving? It's a Bing Thing). In addition, she is also clearly harbouring a deep seated resentment regarding the abhorrent animal's hold on her beloved Flop whom she is definitely lusting after.
As a stuffed toy, Paget will be able to deliver a Myxomatosis infected vector into the mark's vicinity without risking her own health. If the contemptible cousin Coco is having a sleepover, a bonus may be required.

The Repugnant Rabbit

Mark 2
Name: Raa Raa "The Infernal" Little Lion

MO: Unabating, unrelenting, nonsensical noise maker. Only happy when irritating all those who surround him. Will even go out of his way to find other animals to disturb (see Crocky fishing, Topsy reading, etc). Incapable of musicality so will therefore relay his key information in a rhythm not unlike slam poetry. Painful.

Execution: Rumour has it that Zebby has links with the American dental community and is believed to have forged a deal in which he will trade locations of certain members of the Jingly Jangly Jungle in return for his life. Whilst generally we consider ourselves, as an association, to be animal lovers (with the exception of Mark 1) we would be willing to let this King of the Jungle go for a bit of peace and quiet first thing in the morning.
The Loathsome Lion

Mark 3:
Name: Topsy and Tim's "Galling" Grandma

MO: An incredibly silly woman with a terrible taste in canine companions. Never to be heard uttering anything of any consequence. Will frequently summon her imbecile son to run numerous errands in relation to her pampered pooches whom she treats like children.

Execution: Joy may already be plotting this one. If anything, this hired gun may need to be reigned in. Her unfeigned loathing is evidenced in her spitting out the name "Jean" whenever the grandmother makes an impromptu and unsolicited appearance. Joy clearly blames her for creating and nurturing the woeful excuse for a husband whom she has to endure on a daily basis; a man so incompetent that he can lose his keys for a full episode before having his pre schooler find them in the door.
I think with Joy, we agree to cut her loose. Let her do what she has to but agree that should she be caught we will deny all knowledge of her existence.

The Galling Grandma and her imbecile son

With this, I conclude our first round of hits. It should be noted that this list is by no means comprehensive with further marks likely to be added in the very near future. However, I think we can all agree that Duggee is entirely safe and should be considered a national treasure.
National Treasure

The PramshedPin this image on Pinterest
The Pramshed
Mum Muddling Through

Friday, 12 January 2018

Now you are 4: An Open Letter to My Daughter

Dearest Bear

So today you turn 4; a proper little girl armed with beautiful blonde curls and strong, considered opinions. Despite the fact that you will imminently be donning your oversized backpack, learning to tie a tie and waving me off at the school gates, it seems like only yesterday you hurtled into the world pink, startled and desperate to be held.
Never parted for long

Long gone are those days though as despite still being found close at hand, you are now a whirlwind of excitement, never to be restrained by physical affection and consistently travelling at breakneck speed in both body and conversation. You are happiest when letting the world know how you feel whether it be through song or dialogue and any silences that may slip through your net will be soon filled with your demand to be informed of "what's your gossip?"

Express Yourself

With such articulate and persuasive speech I sometimes forget that you are only four and despite treasuring every heartfelt disclosure that you entrust unto me, I fear that I may be a little too stringent at times which is tough on the little person who feels others' disappointment so keenly. Never take this as a criticism though. Your empathic nature takes my breath away and it is quite possibly my favourite thing about you. No one is ever to be excluded from play, your brother is comforted for every knock and hardship he endures, treats are shared with others without the need for petition and your mummy's frequent desertions to run is permitted with minimal fuss even though i know you would much rather be spending that time elbow deep in pink glitter or channelling your inner princess.

Channel your inner princess

Your moral compass is set straight and true, guiding you on a course from which deviations are few and far between. You will instinctively choose what is right over what you want without counsel and whilst this doesn't always make you popular you don't seem to understand why anyone would choose to do anything else.

Stay strong

In summary my girl, you are beautiful inside and out. Your go to emotion is unadulterated joy evidenced by the skip in your step and the song in your voice. Stay you, stay kind, stay happy.

Stay you, stay kind, stay happy

All my love


P.S. if you could eat some non beige food in the near future I would be very grateful

Rhyming with Wine
Letters to my Daughter

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Tiger Who Came to Tea: EXPOSED

Sophie's mum was locked in the trance of an Instagram scrolling spiral when she absent mindedly reached for her drink and was both surprised and disturbed by the levity of the bottle in her grasp. Had she really finished the beers that her husband had been saving for his return from that overnight "team building exercise" in the Cotswolds? You know the one: "it's SUCH a chore", he "wouldn't go if [he] could get out of it", he would "MUCH rather be at home" with she and Sophie, she "shouldn't be jealous" as he would have "no fun whatsoever". Sophie's mother was somewhat skeptical.

To be fair it was very unlike her to drink before the all-acceptable 6pm but Sophie had been a particular terror that day. It had started with the pilfering of her mother's favourite lipstick from her coat pocket (as who actually gets to use a handbag?) She then proceeded to use the beloved cosmetic as a drawing implement to depict, what could only be described, as the scene of a massacre on her bedroom wall. All within the time it took for her mother to put a wash on.
Toddler Art

Her creative streak obviously worked up quite the appetite as, whilst her mother was distracted by her artistic endeavours, Sophie stealthily moved to the kitchen and devoured the twelve currant buns which were due to be donated to the nursery bake sale the following afternoon.
Post fuel stop and whilst her mother was preoccupied trying to salvage the walls, Sophie managed to empty all of her mother's finest hair products (overlooking the Aldi goods) into the bath before turning on all of the taps. The resulting deluge was of biblical proportions and the subsequent mopping required every towel in the house to stem the flow.
Water Play

Not yet satisfied with the level of devastation that she had left in her wake, Sophie then went on to kidnap a rather vicious looking Ginger Tom who strayed into their garden whilst her mother was still in the bathroom on bended knee, cursing her husband for having the pleasure of working full-time. Sophie coaxed the fierce feline into the house using the tuna sandwiches that had gone uneaten after her feast of currant buns, before concealing him in the larder.
You shall not pass

 Now, whilst Sophie is clearly a spirited child, she would never be accused of being cruel and, not wanting the cat to go thirsty, had poured out the four pint carton of milk that she had liberated from the fridge. Having largely missed the shallow bowl which she had meticulously placed on the floor of the larder, the dish now appeared like a speck in the ocean.
Milky Goodness

And that is exactly how Sophie's mother felt. As she sat there picking the label off her empty beer bottle, she could hear the grating saccharine voice of Topsy and Tim's mother mocking her from the TV just like those "instamums" and their #blessed images of motherhood that she had perused whilst Sophie was finally on lock down in front of the digital babysitter. All they were meant to achieve that day was a trip to the local supermarket but once the frantic feline was freed from its enforced captivity, it emerged confused and angry taking great leaps from one kitchen surface to another, taking several breakables out on its journey. Seeing the utter shambles that lay before her, Sophie's mother had picked her way through the fragments, opened the fridge and cracked open that beer.

She was broken from her reverie by the sound of a key turning in the door. "Daddy!" shouted the little girl as, pyjama clad, she bounded off the couch and threw herself upon her father. Sophie's mother, having leapt to her feet and not wanting to appear as though this had been the extent of today's activities, hid the incriminating beverage behind her back. 

Her husband's eyes scanned the room as he took in the scene of devastation surrounding him. He looked to Sophie's mother "what on earth happened here?!"
She gulped as she saw the ginger Tom passing the window behind him, weighed down by its heavy belly.

"Erm... We had a... Tiger... come to tea? Yes? Yes. That's right. A Tiger."

"Ri-ight" he said hesitantly, spying the empty bottles. "Well I'm hungry and you look like you need fed so get your coats on and I'll take you to the local caff."

Rhyming with Wine
The Pramshed

Friday, 5 January 2018

Toddler Life: Loathing Imaginary Play

Now, you may think me disloyal but I really struggle with spending a day solo parenting in the house. Not to put it too bluntly, I get a little bored. Mind achingly, soul crushingly bored. Obviously I adore my children, I cannot imagine my life without them, the time I spend with them is so precious and they continue to amaze me every day etc. but most of their games seem to revolve around role play and if there is one thing I loathe in life it is role play.

Living the Dream
I detest taking on the persona of Maleficent, Scar, Gaston, The Wicked Stepmother or Ursula and my hatred is not solely limited to Disney villains. I also despise playing the pet, the pet owner, the big sister, the shop customer or the tea party attendant. It’s just not my bag. My husband, on the other hand, will immerse himself in it; happily getting down on all fours, adopting silly voices and inhabiting the character he has been given for not an inconsiderable length of time. He has clearly missed his calling; Royal Shakespeare Company eat your heart out.
Husband: Always game for a spot of role play (not like that)
I should also point out that I am immensely proud of my children’s ability to flex their imaginations and play make –believe, it eases my concerns that the digital babysitter features too much in their day to day lives and their brains are therefore fighting the transition to mush. I delight in my daughter’s long lasting friendship with her imaginary friend “Beega” (although that Beega needs a good dose of the naughty step with the way she constantly tries to lead my cherubic child astray) but I just don’t want to participate in it. Can I not just be a spectator? Is an audience not essential to any budding thespian?  

Daughter (left) with the lesser spotted Beega (right)

That is not to say that I hate being with my offspring, not at all, I just hate playing with my offspring. I enjoy many other aspects of spending time with them including (but not limited to) arts & crafts, outdoor pursuits, reading (with heartfelt voices), ball games, jigsaws, anything involving bubbles and building. But with my abhorrence of all things play-acting weighing heavily on my mind, I routinely seek out organised activities to fill our time, thus avoiding any lull which may require me to pretend, put on a voice or manipulate my body into the form of another creature. I remember in Nick Hornby’s About a Boy the protagonist, being happily unemployed, divides the day stretching out in front of him into manageable blocks. Whilst I found it entirely depressing in my ignorant liberated youth, since entering the world of toddler parenting it is a strategy to which I can entirely relate. An hour of dance class here, a trip to Book Bug at the library there, even a trip to the supermarket can be thrown in for good measure and once you factor in half an hour there and back, I can easily while away the day enjoyably. I should also point out that chatting with my four year old whilst we journey (the near two year old is no raconteur) is one of my all-time favourite past times and I consider her to be some of the finest company I have all week.
The Toddler conversation varies from the sublime to the ridiculous
However, should I wake in the morning with a day free of scheduling or pre-planned activities stretching out in front of me, like a pirates gang plank sure to plunge me into certain misery, I feel a cold sweat coming on. What if they want to pretend?

Utter dread
I know if I put my mind to it, I could easily feel guilty about this admission but truth be told I don’t remember ever enjoying make believe even as a child and I am almost certain that my imagination has always been somewhat encumbered by a depressingly realistic outlook. So I think I shall console myself with the fact that I put my heart and soul into narrating their numerous stories voices and all, and I must acknowledge the fact that parenting is not always the most enjoyable of jobs (see scooping excrement out the bath, night feeds, pelvic floor weakness and the mum/dad bod, plus the salary is downright deplorable). There will be times when I shall just have to steel myself, wave my limbs about like a demented fish, flick my hair back, issue a guttural laugh and decree my children to be “poor unfortunate souls!”.  

Mudpie Fridays

Everything Changes: Working Out the "Working Mother" Bit

It's been a big week this week and, no, we haven't sold our house. In fact, it is no longer even on the market which was both a hea...