Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sheer Bliss, plus Mate

Its 7am Monday morning, the busiest and most hectic 2 hours of the week are upon me. The previous nights bottle of Cava only slightly slowing me down as I try to organise thoughts and plans in my head. 7.00-7.20 is Dawns slot in the bathroom, so a shout upstairs and a returned grunt gets that process going. Breakfasts are made, lunch boxes sorted, uniforms thrown on various children as I consider the first coffee of the day.

Dawn has overrun her allotted time, so a grumbling mumbling Wife takes the 7.25-7.50 position. Katy's elasticated tie is being used as a slingshot, her cardigan is on upside down, and her shoes are on the wrong feet. So far so good, a definite improvement on last week. Dawn slams out of the door, then sheepishly comes back in 2 minutes later to pick up forgotten homework. I actually get a goodbye second time round.

Wife eventually graces us with her presence, leaving me with the 7.55-8.00 final slot. I actually waste 30 seconds of my time looking in the mirror, always a mistake as the day is getting old fast, as am I by the looks of it. I waste a further 30 seconds trying to convince myself the grey makes me look more George Clooney than George Formby. An argument I lose every time. No time for a proper wash, will have to use the 'spray the deodorant in the air and wander around' trick. Can't dare despoil the wonderfully sculpted noses of the Mums who are unfortunate to be downwind of me in the playground. Well not again anyway.

Back downstairs and it's time to redress Katy, grab a sip of cold coffee, and pour everybody into the car. School bags, lunch bags, PE bags, and handbags all thrown in after them. A quick look around to check I have everything, which of course I haven't, so I pick up the nearest three things to me, and hope one of them fits the bill. Drop wife at station where she realises she has forgotten her glasses. Apparently my offer of either a stapler, empty CD case, or a blue sock does not help. A very silent (well silent on my part) drive back to the house ensues. Back to the station where a grateful (again, grateful on my part) drop off is completed. I have now lost 40% of the household, 20% to go. This is the kind of fiscal deficit I like.

On to Katy's school and we are actually early for a change, and by early I mean on time. I get a puzzled look from the caretaker as I walk past, and I realise this is the first time he has seen me not running with a child under each arm. His look of puzzlement returns to a smile as I run back to the car to retrieve the forgotten book bag. I grab a handful of hair clips from my pocket and attempt to do something with Katy's hair. I stand back and admire my work. She now looks like she has survived a heavy gale, rather than a full blown tsunami, so I am pleased. I go to wipe away her tears of abandonment but she has gone without even a backward glance. I vow to deal with my own abandonment issues. Maybe next term.

A slow walk back to the car, stuck behind the slow procession of Chanel No5 fumes and Mummy's with buggies. I forget about a quick getaway, and holding my breath, join the procession. Eventually I reach the car, my face a shade of blue from oxygen deprivation. A few deep breaths and my head stops swimming and I am OK to drive. I should walk really, it's only a 15 min walk, but what's the point having a car if you don't use it?

I arrive home twenty minutes later. Bloody school run traffic, drives me crazy. Go to get the unwanted stapler, CD case and sock out of the car, but decide against it, you never know when they will come in handy. I sweep them onto the floor to join the map of France, the old video remote, and a forgotten Teddy Bear called Tongue. Like I said, you just never know.

I open the door to the house and close it behind me, maybe a little too loudly, too extravagantly. A smile appears on my face for the first time today as I survey the silence. All I can hear is my own small giggle as I contemplate the lazy day ahead. Maybe I will put a wash on, probably not though. Maybe I will wash the kitchen floor, almost definitely not. Maybe I will read the paper cover to cover whilst sipping a piping hot cup of coffee, I answer out loud. A resounding "Sounds like a plan". I laugh again. I am happy with my lot, happy with my new found solitude. Not so happy with this new development of talking to myself, but I'm sure I will get used to it.

A small tap on the door brings me back to reality. I turn expecting to see the postman at the door, but I see nothing through the frosted glass. Another tap on the door and I open it with a slight frustration. I look down and there stands my two year old son Mate. His look says 'you forgot me again', his mouth says "breakfast". I gather him into my arms, go back into the house, and recalculate my day.

Sheer bliss, plus Mate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It’s our first day

This is it, this is the day, the day all our hard work and effort has been leading to. The day when at last, finally, Katy starts school. It seems like this day has been spoken about (in hushed reverend tones) since Katy spoke her first word over 3 years ago. It was "Pub" by the way, her first word. Made me proud, also got me a filthy look from her Mum, but you can't have it all can you.

Anyway the day has arrived, I am totally prepared, uniform, bags, PE kit, lunch snacks, all have been purchased, labelled and packed. I have even bought spare batteries for the camera, and have them hidden away in the case. I need to avoid a repeat of the first day of nursery fiasco, referred to as the 'You had to remember one effin thing Day' around these parts. Even the neighbours (on both sides) call it that.

I obviously can't be trusted to dress her for the first day, so am relegated downstairs to deal with Mate. You would have thought it may be a good idea to at least to watch how it's done, especially on the basis it will be me doing it from tomorrow onwards, but no. I imagine I may be given an instruction guide tomorrow, I do appreciate that school socks are that much more difficult to put on.

Mate seems quite happy though, he is wearing socks for the first time in 6 weeks, all the better for hiding those dirty ankles. I have spent a great deal of time planning my own appearance as well, you know how judgemental the Mums can be. I spent 10 minutes looking in the mirror deciding whether to shave or not. It's an important decision you know, you have to start as you mean to go on. Sod it, I don't want to spoil them on the first day. Plus if I raise the bar too high for myself, it will only lead to long term failure.

Have gone for the clean but scruffy look, like a Big Issue seller done good. Was quite proud of myself until I got sent back upstairs to change, "Quite frankly you are an embarrassment to be seen with". A bit harsh I feel, must be the nerves. OK, clean three quarter lengths and an un-ripped T-shirt this time, no socks though, not until winter anyway. I even remember to put on my special aftershave, the one that didn't come attached to a deodorant bottle. That should impress the Yummy Mummies, plus it does tend to keep the flies off me as well, which is good.

Time for the photos, she looks so beautiful, I think my heart is breaking again. I somehow manage to poke myself in both eyes with the camera, it has made me go all misty, well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Trying to get Katy to pose for the photos is proving difficult. She managed to stand still and smile nicely for the first 50, but things aren't looking so good now. Although to be fair, I do wonder how easy it is to strike a natural pose when your Mother is screaming "smile properly" at you?

The first day starts later than normal, I guess designed to give you a less stressful start. It has also meant that I have had time for three cups of strong coffee, and I am beginning to think that this may have been a mistake. I can feel myself getting more manic and twitchy. I have been warned not to talk too much when I get there. When I get nervous I tend to joke a lot, it's my own Superhero Confidence Cape. Apparently this does not create the best first impression though. I will always be referred to by the nursery parents as 'that bloke who told Mrs Swithers her orange top matched her tan'. Maybe I should go stand in the corner and shout out random punch lines, get it all out of my system. This had just resulted in more frowns of disapproval, I fear I may be fighting a losing battle.

I have compiled a list of ways to behave on your first day of school. A kind of mixture of warnings and tips on how best to interact with all the new friends you will be making. So far it reads:

Be friendly

Don't interrupt people when they are talking

Always keep eye contact

Don't let anyone bully or intimidate you

If it all goes wrong, don't cry, just go and tell someone

I am hoping this will help me make friends with the Mums, am wondering if I should make a list for Katy.

Well that's it, it's time to go, there is nothing more I can do to prepare us. I am as ready as I can ever be. Be brave, be brave, I'll be fine, of course I will.

God, I want my Mum.