Only the working mum who never ever, ever gets to drop off/pick up her little seedlings from school would ever be envious of the school run! To the stay at home mother or the mother that gets to partake some days …. it is one of the torturous aspects to parenting. It shouldn’t be – I agree! Let’s think about the symbolism here!
So, the idea is that you lovingly prepare your darling little bundle of joy, freshly dressed in long prepared, crisp uniforms .. transforming her into a vision of intelligence and societal perfection. You tie her hair into perfect little bunches and place beautiful little bows to the tops of the hair bobbles (just to emphaise her innocence). Her shoes are shining with precision, freshly polished each morning with my own eager fingers … knowing that shiny shoes demonstrate order, determination and pride (of which is very important for every year 1 pupil). I will then stand behind her whilst she brushes her perfect teeth and kiss her cheek, secretly thanking her for taking such pride in hygiene at such a young age. We will then skip down the stairs together and will be met at the table by my teenage children. They are already dressed and prepared eagerly chatting to each other about the day over the breakfast table. I will watch them all with extreme fondness conversing with each other! Whilst brimming over with pride, I will prepare fresh home-made pancakes covered with fresh healthy fruit. The children will thank me kindly for my time before they eagerly demolish everything on their plates. Without being directed, they will clear away the table and pop on their shoes. We will, of course then all get in the car with plenty of time to spare before the school bell does ring. We drive to school bidding each other fond farewells, jealous of the time that the teachers will spend with them that is stolen from me!
Now this bit should be my favourite! I am, after all, passionate about education. Walking into the friendly, safe environment of the primary school playground hand in hand with my darling daughter. Passing the cutely arranged playground equipment and smelling the daffodils that are in full bloom, reminding us that life has been kind enough to give us yet another spring. I am, of course, surrounded by the friendly chatter of other mums. We join each other in a friendly clique, there to support each other. We eagerly chat to each other about the effectiveness of the primary provision, how we can collaborate to improve things. We look at each others children with fondness, realising that, in reality we are one big family (and we are so lucky to have each other).
We take our darling buds into the classroom, they hug us with their perfect hair and clean faces. Eagerly kissing us goodbye, joining hands together with their friends and making their way to the carpeted area .. the children are so excited for their day of privileged (free) education in an extremely safe environment.
Ok, so there is the vision! And if your school run resembles this, then you are of a minority … I can assure you. And you may need to pop around to mine for a glass of wine in order to spill your bloody secrets! But if, like me, you are reading this.. thinking what the hell is wrong with my family??? Then you are in great company! Does this sound more familiar?
After I have worked until 2 in the morning, I have finally dragged my sorry self out of bed, wishing that just one shred of organisation would exist in my flawed personality. I start by trying to wake up my teenage children (who no doubt have pulled a fast one and have been up texting and gaming long after they have permission). Like hibernating bears they grunt and disappear back under the safety of their quilts, as usual refusing to acknowledge my existence.
As usual I have decided that today is the day that I will remain calm; I won’t shout, scream …. or cry! I have a senior position, I earn more money than my husband…. how hard can this shit be!
My 6-year-old shows me who is boss, whilst I practically beg her to put some clothes on. Of course my begging falls on deaf ears and I angrily begin trying to force her arm up into the air without it breaking. “Arms up for the queen” I sing through gritted teeth, as she wails loudly, claiming that I am hurting her. Tricky corner that today’s generations learn quickly; yell child abuse and the bitch has to let go!
Of course being an intelligent, determined individual, you will not be surprised to know that I always manage to get her dressed. Yay .. go me! Except the vision of intelligence and societal perfection may be a tad of an ambitious status. Never one to have been organised, I often have to resort to odd bits of uniform that happen to be clean. Except maybe the cardigan. Seriously she loses so many of these, that sometimes a 2nd day just has to be done! And I will admit to you all here (but please don’t spread this) that if I find another child’s name on the label, I pretend I haven’t seen it. Come on … somebody has her cardigan – right??
I don’t have the time to gander at You Tube tutorials in order to make her look like ‘Cindy Lou Who’ so it’s the same drab bunches, I’m afraid. I will also confess to casting my zealous gaze at the children who have immaculate ribbons and clips attached to their well cared for locks! Where do these damn parents find the time??? I, often wonder if the way to stop her pulling her hair bobbles out 10 times before we have even made it to school, is by stapling them to her head. Well, what are your suggestions? Ok … neither do I shine her shoes … but they don’t have dog shit on them … so that is a start? Surely?
Now the brushing of the teeth part is not a problem for my little one … she still enjoys the joys of oral hygiene (nothing like strawberry toothpaste to make the routine more exciting) but teenagers that is another thing. Convincing them to carry out this essential task, is more like convincing them to undertake a bone marrow transplant. So much so that they often lie that the task has been completed. This has led to the compulsory breath smelling test! All trust has gone straight out of the window! I envisage the future might hold .. compulsory drug testing upon the return from school.
Whilst we are talking about the teenagers … it may be the time to mention that I have to ask them more times to do something then I do the youngest. I have been known to shove my son in the garden in his underpants before now, upon refusal to get dressed. It helped for a short time, as the imagery of arriving to school in his pants was too much to bear. I do all the normal morning tricks … hide quilt, lay out clothes, shout encouraging words up the stairs, chuck them a cereal bar etc! All to no avail .. as they appear at the bottom of the stairs 5 minutes before I have to leave.
The eldest daughter is the best … she saunters down every morning looking like a different character from the Rocky Horror show. I try my best to hide my shock and to offer calm, friendly advice about her sluggish eyebrows, her orange face or her foundation laden moustache. But the reply is always the same .. “Yes mum I know” . Well if you bloody know … why haven’t you removed it from your god damn face!!!!!!!
The curse of the PE Kit has to be the worst part. Although I am well aware for a full week that the PE day is looming … I still don’t have the skill to organise it in advance. Instead I wait right til the morning and then I root through my boot to find the remnants of last weeks fusty kit. A quick shake and a run over with the iron should do the job – right?
The arguments start as soon as the car door slams shut! Who would have thought that one could become so protective over a car seat – how the hell can it belong to somebody???? Realistically I have probably driven for all of 3 minutes before I break my ‘every morning rule’ and yell ‘For gods sake ……. ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttt up”! I may even then issue a little punishment and turn the radio off so that we can all sit in an uncomfortable silence! That will show them. If I am really mad … then I begin … ‘The lecture’. I pack it full of things about ‘Grateful third world children’ and ‘they will need each other one day’ and ‘when I get the sack for being late … you will know about poverty then’. For a real good bit of emotive manipulation, I always throw in ‘if only you loved me the way I love you’. Now if I can see that both the silence and the lecture have failed to bring them to their knees in apologies .. I do the only thing that can take a teenager out! I confiscate the electronic devices! Boom!
As I pull up to the primary school … parking is such a nightmare that I literally would rather poke my granny in the eye than do this every morning. It is pure torture! It is honestly a cruel case of ‘lets put these people in an impossible situation and then moan at them every day for it’. I live too far away not to bring my car and parking is atrocious for the 15 mins walk around the school, so you have to park somewhere … but there is nowhere! The grannys in the houses around are literally waiting behind the gates like a venus fly trap. Seriously Traffic Wardens have nothing on these guys! Should your car marginally hang over their drive … you will suffer their wrath!
So when I finally start the mad late dash around the school to my daughters classroom, I am just about ready to beat the Mary Poppins like mothers with my daughters book bag (that’s on the days that I actually remember to bring it). As they give me a piteous smile as they are leaving the playground, I can hear their thoughts and if I couldn’t, it wouldn’t matter, because I can hear their gossiping the minute I have stepped three feet away.
It is with a frown I am met by the teacher who is (rightly so) frustrated at my inability to get her there on time. I share her frustration …. I swear there is a time their!!! I give a shitty excuse that attempts to relieve me of the ‘bad mummy’ badge, I then explain I couldn’t find her book bag, I assure my daughter that she will be fine with the bottle of water from the day before and then attempt to peel the sobbing, snotty wreck of a child from my unwashed, dog-hair covered, suit. I resort to bribery and make a mad dash for the door. My pace is broken by the teacher telling me she ‘needs a quick word’. Yes drums please – the words every parent dreads to hear uttered. ‘You haven’t paid for her milk online this term, so she can’t have any today’! Nice bit of public humiliation for my child – and a nice glance of disappointment from the 6-year-old! I can read her thoughts also – ‘I will never do this to my child’ she ponders!
I attempt the total wipeoutesque run around the playground in my dodgy heels back to my car and could just burst with frustration at the gaggle of women still leisurely hanging around at the school gates. Seriously?? Do they just wait there so that they can awkwardly go silent as you squeeze by them just so that they can make sure that you know they are bitching about you? Or is it more of a piss take so that you can feel even more annoyed that they have the time to even stand and bitch, yet you haven’t even had the time to visit the toilet despite being up since 5!
Finally …. I am back in the safe confines of my car …… about to begin the day! Yes …. I bloody know ….the day hasn’t even kicked in yet!!! #godgivemestrength