The surgery website says that if you need a doctor’s appointment you should call at 8am in the morning. That’s fine, but at 8am in the morning, I am busy doing what countless other mothers are doing at that time: clearing up last night’s dinner, finding second pair of games socks and mouthguard for rugby match (no mouthguard? Find your brother’s. No that is not gross. I’m certain you won’t suffer any sort of spit related infection), sponging down tunic which has missed the weekend laundry, getting ready for work, applying mascara ineptly in the kitchen mirror (have you ever tried applying mascara without a mirror? Impossible!) while listening to someone read another chapter (Wonder by R Palacio. Brilliant book btw), sewing on name tape (wrong name – I knew I should have ordered more than 72 – but folded over they have the same surname, I figure that will suffice) into waterproof needed for today’s trip to Kew Gardens. I know you get the picture. Therefore, by the time I call the surgery, it is 8.04am (quite an achievement really!), and my call is now number 34 in the queue. Is it worth hanging on to be told there are no appointments left for the day, or the next slot is on any day next month that doesn’t end in a ‘y’, or I should go to A & E if it is an emergency (which it isn’t, obviously), or ring back later and spend another half hour on the phone? Last time I visited the GP, it transpired I had been struck off their register because I hadn’t visited the surgery in over 3 years so I am determined to find a way to see somebody this time! So, hanging on it is….
I believe it is well documented that the possession of a pet in the house provides health benefits, including increased psychological wellbeing and an important factor in stabilising blood pressure levels. First, a routine visit to the vet with the black labrador for annual vaccinations, worming, general maintenance check. A small nodule has been discovered which needs removal as well as treatment for tooth decay (the dog has not been flossing). I’m going to encourage the Things to become vets on the back of the bill. Second, the cat has moved on from the tendency to bring me small rodents, and is now content to chew her way through any wire in the house. Computer cables, phone chargers, sewing machine lead, shoe laces, iron cord. You’d think she’d suffer an electric shock; maybe she enjoys the thrill. Third, there is nobody in the house who would like to clean the fish tank. Except me, of course. Next to putting out the bins, picking up dog mess from the garden, and disposing of rodent guts from bedroom carpets, it’s up there on my list of favourite jobs. Just off to buy some more phone chargers. Blood pressure problems? Not me!
Precious Thing 2. It’s his birthday so generous spirited mummy and daddy decided to purchase a new phone. Well, nice mummy executed that plan, and she has now morphed into VERY MUCH NOT NICE MUMMY. Seriously, walking into a phone shop should come with a warning that the place will suck the very life force from you. I’m going to rebrand it “The Mood Hoover Store”. Whilst waiting for a customer service operative (which customer service training had she attended? I wondered) to give me my ‘options’ (broadly my options were to spend more money, it was just a question of how much more), I had to listen to the manager berating staff face to face in the store, I had to prove who I was by paying 89p on my debit card for it to be refunded immediately (I got tired of asking why this was necessary, nobody could answer me), I had to be passed to another customer service representative – this time assistant manager – to deal with my requests (apparently it is very complicated for an additional phone contract to be added to my contract). Actually I can’t even bore you with the myriad other reasons why I was there for nigh on 2 hours. Yes! Two painful hours of my life I will not get back!! And the worst of it? I return home to discover that my entire bank of contacts and details has been replaced with that of my 15 year old son. I don’t need Millie/Ellie/Lily/Molly/Emily/Tilly’s numbers (so many girls, though. Quite pleased for him but surely he must get them confused?). I want my own friends back (most popular names: Karen, Claire and Sarah). I want to cry and scream, and I know this is a first world problem, I really do, but I wish that we all had the wherewithal to confront these giant telecommunications companies and throw in the towel, and say, be done with you, mobile phone, be banished from my life, I will go back to writing letters and sending smoke signals. No, of course I won’t do that because I don’t like the smell of smoke too much, and I am rather fond of Whatsapp, but there has to be a better way of buying a new phone, doesn’t there? Somebody……??
Thing 1 has a room full of polaroid style photos with snapshots of friends, family, pets, more friends, cousins, parties, selfies. She’s surrounded in that room by people (and animals) who love her. Thing 4 has enough cuddly toys to stock the entire ground floor of Hamleys. Thing 3 has nothing on his wall, though that could be something to do with my previous screeching for the application of sellotape/blu-tack to the paintwork. Thing 2, on the other hand, has a pin board (a mad moment of DIY generosity), see snapshot above, which features only rugby heroes (please don’t ask me to name them). I was wondering if the contrasts had some deeper meaning, about boys and girls and idols and heroes and manifestations of love etc. But then I recalled that as a teenager, I had pin-ups ; George Michael and Princess Diana mostly – but also a few of Boy George about whom I held not entirely positive feelings, but the cool kid in my class (Karen) loved him and so I thought she might like me more if I had a poster of him in my bedroom. Maybe there’s a girl in Thing 2’s class who is passionate about rugby personalities? Remind me to ask him later!
Family trip at the weekend to see the film ‘Lion’. I’d read some critical reviews (it’s a little slow in parts, the music can start to become overpowering, there are some areas where it diverts from the true story) but these points were so minor in my experience. It’s a stunningly powerful film, a formidable tale of familial love – maternal, fraternal and filial. It’s an unimaginable situation for a five year old boy to go missing, but equally horrifying to think about how a loving mother might feel in this situation. The beauty, pain and strength of the story is in the love that is shared between the central characters; love lost, love found and love created. And in the context of being adopted, Thing 4 found a true positive and recognised the privilege of being loved (albeit while feeling hard done by!),
“It’s not fair, Mummy. He had two mums and I’ve only got one.”
Thing 4 was to be collected from Brownies by friendly mother while I was at Parents’ Evening for Thing 3 (“easily distracted”). During conversation with English teacher, I can feel handbag vibrating ceaselessly. Short 3 minutes chat (yes, we will read more/anything/everything/audible books even, magazines, First News – for sure!) which must please tutor as he has a queue snaking round the corner of the room.
Yes, it’s Brown Owl who has left 450 messages because on top of her many hours of voluntary service to the Girlguiding Association she now has to take her own children to gymnastics competition (obviously it’s the Inner South East London U9 floor and vault official quarter finals) but of course, it’s no trouble for Thing 4 to tag alongside, would she like dinner too?
Learning Outcome 1: must spend dedicated time finding more reliable parents in the Brownies playground. Learning Outcome 2: attend fewer Parents’ Evenings? Learning Outcome 3: realisation of pure unbridled relief at ignorance/involvement with gymnastic club. Learning Outcome 4: volunteers in this world should have a medal, though they would likely gift it to someone else in the spirit of generosity and selflessness.
Really, really need to sign the passport renewal form but I need a black pen. Can I find one? No. A pencil even? No. A coloured pencil, yes, but it needs sharpening, and who knows which vortex the sharpener might have fallen into, although I believe I saw one back in 2015 on the shelf behind the sports water bottles and I thought to myself at the time I should move it to a more memorable location. It’s not there now, which means that I probably did move it, but clearly to nowhere memorable. Back to finding a pen (which is a complete mystery as Thing 1 was gifted the entire contents of a Paperchase store for Christmas so there must be one somewhere). Ah, yes, I shamelessly kept the pen which came from the Cats Protection League Christmas newsletter, and I’ve located it in the bottom of a Bag for Life in the car boot. Passport form signed. Recycled envelope used from this morning’s post. Need to get my hands on a roll of sellotape to stick down the already used envelope. The only roll in reach is an old sticky one which doesn’t appear to have an end. I’ll use the masking tape which is in the drawer instead (even though I presume this should be stored in the tool box). Now my plan is to attach aforementioned pen to a piece of string and secure to the desk so it cannot escape. Anyone seen the string recently?
Minecraft. What? Where? When? Where? Who? Thing 3 tells me it’s a ‘Sandbox’ but that’s just not enlightening. What’s fascinating me is the polar approach towards construction adopted by boy/girl. I’m not gender stereo-typing here, I’m just a casual (well, maybe less than casual when I’ve finished watching Series 1 of The Crown) observer but one world is full of armoured vehicles, buildings complete with spy holes, ammunition stores, secret tunnels, a couple of thousand sports pitches, trap doors, sky scrapers, dug-outs and a large sign saying “KEEP OUT SISTERS”, and the other is awash with dog and pig hospitals, bedcovers with flower designs (as much as flowers can be designed with blocks), enormous bathrooms, more bedrooms, a cat rescue centre, equine stables, orphanages, schools, a foundling hospital and a secret password so that none of her siblings can access these worlds. What this tells me is that at least two of my children spend too much time on Minecraft.
There was a time when I was spooning pureed fruit (organic, of course) into those precious mouths and I truly looked forward to the time when they would be old enough for us to have homework chats. We could pore over the atlas together, discuss why Henry broke from Rome, read Jane Eyre in tandem or converse over dinner only in French. The possibilities were endless! But perhaps homework hour should be rebranded? Arsenic hour? Take last night as an example.
Thing 4, on writing up science conclusion, after quite some persuasion that homework should be completed before turning on episode 756 of The Next Step: “I discovered that North Pole of a magnet is on the left and South Pole is on the right.”
Me: “Where were North and South Pole, then, for Hattie, who sits on the opposite side of the table to you?”.
Thing 4: “ What do you know about magnets? You weren’t there in the class, and anyway when you were at school, in the olden times, magnets hadn’t been invented!”
The word ‘repel’ sprang to instantly to mind….
An exquisite box of caramel sea salt truffles dusted with icing sugar were staring at me from the depths of the fridge, behind the jar of piccalilli – kept only in the fridge because I love the stylish Fortnum and Mason jar – where I had hidden them so nobody else could find them (not that they’d appreciate truffles, they are more of a Smarties bunch). The chocolates were given to me as a Christmas present by one of my gorgeous pupils. They were so scrumptious that I was forced to eat the entire box in one sitting, while watching back episodes of The Crown. A study once concluded that eating chocolate led to improved cognitive performance. On reflection, perhaps a good rummage and tidy would unveil the whereabouts of the giant box of After Eights which, post Christmas, are lurking somewhere else in the house……