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……??
Like many women, I belong to a Book Club. Like many women we’ve discovered it’s a fabulous way to read books, drink wine, eat chocolate and spend an evening every month with the girls. The only thing that troubles me is when it’s my turn to choose the book. High culture, classic, low brow, non-fiction etc? It’s always a worry because you don’t want to let anyone down in the group, you’d like to give them the gift of a truly memorable read. Something that we can churn over, discuss, find inspiration, or just plain enjoy. Luckily an opportunity presented itself yesterday afternoon with a fellow mum while collecting Thing 4 from the playground.
Me: Hi there, how are you? Have you had a productive day?
Lucy: Oh hi! Yes, great day actually. I finished my book.
Me: Oh brilliant, what was it? Any good? I need to come up with a suggestion for Book Club next week.
Lucy (a little bit disdainfully if I’m honest, but maybe I’m being overly sensitive in hindsight): Oh no! I wasn’t reading a book. I was writing my own. It’s an academic publication about the development of working memory in young adults. Do you remember, we spoke about it before Christmas?
Lucky I’m not a young adult isn’t it?
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.
I passed the haggis in the butcher’s window this morning and it set off a whole chain of thoughts down memory lane. The first was that I really used to love haggis even though my father repeatedly told my brother and I that it was a small furry Scottish animal that lived in the Highlands. In fact, he actually led us to believe that the haggis was related to the Lirpa Loof, a hairy creature that lived in the wilds of Ireland. Like the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, parents and mythical stories are just a magical part of childhood. Got to admit, though, that my kids aren’t having much of a magical time with my story-telling (must work harder)!
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……
Hurrah!! Monday. Bin day. Back to the regular schedule after the festive period when I read and re-read the ‘Waste Services’ leaflet on a daily basis in the vain hope that reading would miraculously make the waste lorry appear and take away all of my carefully sorted rubbish. As requested, I methodically separated the Christmas wrapping paper into distinct piles: paper with foil and glitter, plain paper and brown paper, not to mention the cardboard box folding, glass bottle/jar sorting and compartmentalising the food tins from the drinks cans. We are a conscientiously environmentally friendly household, you see. Indeed, as well as recycling, the laundry is put on the 30 degree cycle. But there are problems associated with that eco-friendly, cost efficient system, namely that it has little effect during the rugby season (Thing 2 pictured above yesterday). I have visions of a conversation taking place at rugby club bar many moons ago, over a few pints of Heineken:
“Club colours, Jeff, John, Ian? What do you think?”
“Green…and white?” (Looking straight at beer bottle).
“Good news. Striped top and white shorts. Job done. Another round, chaps?”
White shorts. Honestly. Eco Warrior will surface another day.
Thing 4 came home this afternoon full of the joys of a school day that are particular to an 8 year old. It’s surely true that we could learn many lessons from 8 year olds. For instance, to be happy for absolutely no reason whatsoever. There was a particularly unusual reason today, though;
“Mummy, we had the best lunch today, ever. It was roast cheetah!” Mmmmm. I hadn’t realised that institutional catering had become so creative. A quick peek on the website and several hours of randomly clicking on every available option under the main menu (School Run Scheme, Uniform Shop, Parent Message Centre, Inspections, Year 6 Results – I must come back to that one another time), I locate the actual food menu for week commencing 9/1/17. Friday dessert. Spotted Dick, how wonderful! That old-school pudding full of stodgy suet, orange zest and currants, finished off with a good dollop of custard. Don’t you wish you were back at school some days?
Dearest darling children,
When I ask you to pop your plate in the dishwasher, I promise that is all I am asking. I am not trying to start a world war. I’m genuinely asking you to pop your plate in the dishwasher because you’re old enough to understand that it’s helpful, that I am a busy person too, that we can share domestic responsibilities, and that this skill will enable you to transition into adult life without the need for a 24 hour butler. I’m not saying “pop your plate in the dishwasher, you uncommunicative, unthinking, moody teenager, and by the way, while I am at it, can you pick up the Everest-resembling mountain of dirty laundry from your bedroom floor, empty the overflowing heap of rubbish festering in the corner of said bedroom (which will fill up the wheelie bin outside), return the 45 half mouldy coffee cups to the kitchen – to the dishwasher even! -, finish writing your Christmas thank you letters, and perhaps apologise for slamming the door 3 weeks ago when I refused to let you stay at your friends house the night before your driving theory test.” Just saying dishwasher, that’s all.