To be honest, it was by pure chance that I even saw the damned sign. I’m normally so busy juggling book bags, lunch boxes and children that it’s as much as I can do to push the right child through the right classroom door, all in my haste to return the temporary peace and quiet of home. But I did, so score one for me, Mr Responsible Dad for a change. This new me may even start reading the school newsletters in future, it would be quite refreshing to be one step ahead of the game rather than standing outside locked school gates on an inset day.
I can then only presume that it was my new smug self confidence that made me forget about the notice until 9pm on the Wednesday night, shit buggery bollocks. Now I have to decide whether to tell the Mrs now, or try to blag it in the morning. Before deciding, I pop out to the kitchen to see if I have enough vodka left to help withstand the disdainful looks and tongue-lashing that I am about to receive. Half a bottle, that’ll do it. The fact she would be coming with us to drop the kids off in the morning settled the matter, time to face the music.
She took the news as well as could be expected to be fair. I can only presume that she was relieved that I had remembered 12 hours before the event, rather than the usual 12 minutes. Nate’s not the kind of kid that wears sports gear, apparently he looks so cute that he only ever gets bought ‘nice’ clothes. It hadn’t really occurred to me until I needed it that we he didn’t have any of his own. I decided I would put him in his sisters Arsenal kit, I knew it would fit him and it had been sunny all week so the emergency was over.
Over that was until we woke up on Thursday to clouds and ground frost, bugger. No tracksuit in the house fit him, so I wrangled everyone together überfast. I dressed him in the top and shorts for now and we would have to zip into Tesco’s on the way there. We had an extra 15 minutes to play with so it was going to be tight, tight but doable.
I’ve always believed in reincarnation, it just makes sense to me. The trouble is that on mornings like this it becomes glaring obvious that I was either a Spanish Inquisitor, a Hun’s henchman, or a Traffic Warden in a previous life. I got stuck behind a dustcart and then two Learners on the way there, the 15 minutes I thought we would get in Tesco’s had become six.
The clothing section was in the far corner of the store and I can only imagine what we looked like running through the shop dragging two bewildered children behind us. Looking back on it now, I would have loved to have seen the Security Camera footage of those mad five minutes. The mirth we must have caused as we bounced from camera to camera. Would they have been able to see the panic in my eyes, the beads of sweat forming on my forehead as we belted up and down the unending aisles of tat? I like to think so.
We eventually arrived at the right aisle and started pulling clothes of the rails, desperately looking for the right size. Size 7, size 7, size 4, size 6, size 3, size 8 – it was a numerical dyslexic’s nightmare. Fortune eventually started to smile on us as we found a hoody (dark blue) and some jogging bottoms (grey) in a size 5. The bottoms looked a bit long so despite the time ticking away, I got him to try them on. A perfect fit (ish), but we had no time to lose so we left them on him and leaving the clothes section looking like opening day of the Next Christmas Sales, rushed back to the tills.
The only ones open were the self service tills, so I picked Nate up and scanned his arse over the scanner. I was then prompted to “Please place item in bagging area”, bugger, there was nothing else to do but drop Nate in the said area. The till started to throw a paddy with a series of commands - “Unexpected item in bagging area” then “Are you using your own bags?” and finally “Please wait for assistance”.
I can’t really explain the look on the shop assistants face but ‘Rottweiler licking piss off a thistle’ comes the closest. She didn’t say a word, she didn’t really need to in all fairness, but after I had paid and started doing the walk of shame out of the store, I could feel her contemptuous stare boring into the back of my scull. One only matched in intensity by the walking iceberg next to me, an iceberg oft referred to as the Mrs.
Lady Luck finally stated to take pity on me and the ride to school was free of traffic and red lights. With three minutes to spare I triumphantly ushered the children through the school gates. The Wife’s perma-scowl was starting to soften and I felt the tension start to ease out of my shoulders. I honestly tried to suppress the smug grin that begun to form on my face when I saw the other stay at home dad in the playground. A dad who was holding the hand of a full uniformed son, poor kid, how could you forget, pah?
The smile started to wobble when I saw the offspring of both Yummy and Slummy mummy, who were both in school uniforms of varying tidiness. I turned to the Mrs and her perma-scowl was back. I pointed to the sign on the door, Look, see, it quite clearly says “The children will be taking part in a sporting event so can you please ensure they are wearing sports clothing on Thursday 26th April.”
At least I’m ready for next week then.