This morning, the kids went back to school after the Easter break.
I don’t know about you but for me, the start of a new school term is like the beginning of a whole new year chock full of promises, vows, getting down humbly on both knees and begging for change. Although we all know that we’re still who we’ve always been and that nothing has miraculously changed, we still have faith. We believe…
Most of my frustrations with getting the kids off to school each morning aren’t rocket science. There’s no brain surgery involved. It’s all Simple Simon stuff like brush your teeth, put on your shoes, make your bed. Yet, getting the kids to complete these basic tasks, which should be as automatic as breathing, is like extracting teeth and they head for the hills. Or, should I say, some form of electronic device if I haven’t got them under lock and key!
It is bad enough that the kids don’t do what they know they’re supposed to do but what I hate even more is my response. Of course, we all picture ourselves as the epitome of calm…the rational parent. However, we all know how quickly our good intentions disappear and all the words of wisdom we’ve extracted from the pile of parenting books beside the bed, soon evaporates. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you hear this very harsh, snappy voice in the room: “I’ve had enough!! I’m leaving!”
No! It’s not the kids threatening to run away. It’s you and this time you’re really and truly going and no cries of “Mummy! Mummy!” are going to bring you back. Oh no! At least, not until you’ve actually finished your cappuccino or skim chai latte and at least flicked through a magazine. I don’t know where runaway mothers go these days and whether people still join the Hari krishnas or move to Nimbin. However, if you’re going to runaway, you have to go somewhere exotic. You just can’t doss down in the local park!
Anyway, I’m not running away from home today because, as I said, it’s a new school term and we are a new family. The kids ticked all the boxes and we were even on time.
You see, miracles do happen!
However, I thought I’d recap a little so you could appreciate the huge Everest of obstacles we’ve had to overcome to get there.
Firstly, there’s “The Case of the Missing Shoe”. While technically not a serial killer because nobody is dead or at least nobody’s dead yet, trying to find that expletive missing shoe when we’re rushing out the door, is a killer. These days, after years of prolonged exposure, my nerves have been so completely and utterly frazzled and fried that at the mention of the word “shoe”, my entire being explodes in lurid panic. Our kids have a uniform so it’s not like they have to decide what they’re going to wear and which pair of shoes. It’s not a fashion parade. It’s school. One morning the impossible happened. I pulled up out the front of the school and my daughter piped up: “But Mummy. I haven’t got my shoes on!” I looked over into the backseat and there she was sitting there in her socks! Her brother has been no better. One morning he managed to get to school without his bag!
How hard can it be? Do I really want to find out?!!
While the case of the missing shoe has been a perpetual drama, an even more recurrent nightmare has been: “The Case of the Uneaten Lunch”. While the media harps on and on about childhood obesity, I’m lucky if my kids eat anything at all and my daughter in particular is living, breathing proof that children can survive on air alone without starving to death. The dog who is something like the size of an overweight hippo despite his diet, is further proof. I lovingly made those sandwiches with my own blood, sweat and tears each morning while desperately waiting for my coffee to kick in and that’s the appreciation I get… a wagging tail!
Just like bad luck runs in threes, so do bad habits…or at least our bad habits.
This brings me to our third and hopefully final fault although I’m sure there are more faults hiding under the carpet or perhaps its all the books stacked up on top of the carpet. Mind you, I can’t see how having lots of books could ever be a fault just like you can’t have too many friends.
Anyway, our third and final (yes!I said final!!) fault is running late for school.
As far as my husband is concerned, my struggles to get the kids off to school on time are a complete and utter mystery just like those other great mysteries of the world such as the creation of the universe, whether Santa, the Easter Bunny or even the tooth fairy exist and who built those huge, enormous statues at Easter Island. These are things that keep even the most mindful person tossing and turning at night, crazed by all sort of theories and possibilities but no definite proof.
My husband is the same. He says that’s why he’s turned grey and points to photos of when we first met and he indeed does look a very different man. I have also wondered who that young woman is next to him in the Austen Healey Sprite, a sports car which taught me that sports cars don’t always equate to romance (there was a certain trip to Byron Bay where we were diverted inland by the Grafton flood and we had to cross the Tenterfield Ranges. It was dark and the rain, as it is in those parts, was pouring down. Geoff and I were soaked despite wearing raincoats because the car was designed to leak and then the muffler got caught on a pothole and fell off. This was a frequent problem and Geoff was very good at reattaching the thing but you had to wait for it to cool down and it was always tricky, frustrating…incredibly unromantic!! )
Anyway, we have had a dreadful track record with running late for school and it really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
When Geoff leaves for work at 7.00am, the kids have usually had their breakfast and are dressed or almost dressed when he leaves and ideally they are starting to get stuck into their homework which isn’t much at their age. We have a list on the whiteboard and they, well there’s usually one of them who is having a good morning and the other one who has fallen off the rails and in the process of trying to keep track of the two of them while I very slowly eat my breakfast, drink my coffee and take what really does amount to two mouthfuls of tablets, that one somehow manages to slip through the net and usually finds some kind of electronic device.
I also have to confess that I am another source of early morning distraction.
Inspiration hits, usually some time after Geoff leaves and what starts out as a few quick lines, soon evolves into an epic poem something along the lines of the Iliad or a post for the blog and a thousand words have found their way on paper. How often does that inspiration hit on paper and not when I’m sitting at my computer screen and I can just type it straight in???!!!
To be fair to myself, too, I am doing this parenting thing while living with a high maintenance chronic disease and while I do get on with things and squeeze the marrow out of life, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a major impact on my daily life. It does. However, that said, we still need to live and that means getting the kids to school on time with both shoes firmly attached to their feet, lunches made and bags packed.
As I said, the start of each school term is like the launch of a whole new year and along with it the usual vows that things are going to be different even though we are still who we are and nothing much has really changed.
However, today is the first day of term and they were on time. Their shoes weren’t lost and if they’ve eaten their lunches, that will be a trifecta!
Wish me luck!