I HATE this time of year. After weeks of lazing about doing nothing it’s back to school. (For me too as I’m a teacher.)
The children have spent their whole holiday glued to either the Playstation or the iPad. They’ve stayed up late and slept in, and have pretty much lived by foraging on chocolates left over from the festive break.
I have been an even worse parent than usual and I blame WordPress. I started my blog just as the Christmas holidays started and haven’t looked up from my laptop since. The children could only identify me in a line up by looking at the top of people’s heads.
Boy am I paying for that neglect now. (I would like to point out I do have a husband who was also off work for the holidays so he was around to chuck some broccoli and other vegetables at them occasionally).
It’s so annoying when you know that the reason your children are being so appalling is your fault. Oh how airily I waved away the bedtime routine over the holiday. ‘They’ll be fine!’, I would say with confidence to my husband. ‘Let them stay up, darling, they can sleep in tomorrow. Oh Son can have his phone on charge in his room, I’m sure he won’t look at it in the night. Where’s the Baileys?’
Oh what an idiot I am. I paid for it the morning we returned to school.
Our First Day Back.
The alarm went off like an axe falling on my head.
Instant chaos. Rob leaps out of bed to chivvy the kids along. I hobble (I’m of an age that when I wake up in the morning I feel as stiff as a 90 year old woman) to the kitchen trying to make toast and brush my teeth at the same time.
‘Take the dog out!’ I shout at Son who is lying headphoned on the sofa wearing his school shirt and a pair of pants. 30 minutes until we had to leave.
‘What?’ Not looking up.
‘Take the dog out for a wee!’
‘I’m not dressed!’
‘Then GET DRESSED!’
Daughter has fallen asleep on the hall sofa, wrapped like a caterpillar in a cocoon of pink duvet. I unroll her until she falls out onto the floor. She lies motionless. She is still asleep.
‘GET DRESSED!’ I shout, spitting toothpaste and toast crumbs.
Twenty minutes to take off.
Daughter is now sitting on the floor of her bedroom gazing dreamily at the neatly folded school uniform left the night before. She has taken her pyjama top off and her hair is an indescribable mess of tangles. ‘GET DRESSED!’ I yell as I run past her room, frantically trying to find a clean pair of tights. ‘Son! Have you taken the dog out?’ I have noticed poor dog is sitting with her legs crossed, leaning hopefully against the front door.
Muffled reply. I kick his door open whilst yoinking my tights up around my hips. ‘What?’ Son is doing kicky uppys with his football. He looks round. He now has trousers on but no shoes or socks. ‘Take the dog out!’ I say again, panting. The tights are too small. Stupid Christmas chocolates. I finally hoick the tights up to where they should be just as a giant ripping noise indicates a hole has appeared. I decide to wear the longer dress with boots to hide the ladder I can feel snaking down the back of my leg.
Rob can’t find any pants. I find a pair wedged in the back of the tumble dryer. They are covered in tumble dryer grey fluff. I give it a cursory flap to get rid of most of it and throw them to Rob. I walk out of the room as he starts complaining ‘the elastic’s gone on those ones!’
‘Have you taken the dog out!?’ I call out. No reply. ‘Take the dog out!’ I spy daughter who hasn’t changed position in the last five minutes. ‘Get dressed!’
‘I am getting dressed,’ she replied, holding up a pair of pants as evidence. ‘OK,’ I say, still out of breath, ‘I’ll get your hair brush. What do you want? Plaits?’
She nods and tugging my dress over my head I run to my bedroom to get the brush – ‘The Brush That Cannot Be Moved – which I keep in my bedroom because if daughter gets hold of it I’ll never see it again.
Rob comes out immaculate in a suit, ‘where’s my..?’ he begins.
‘Don’t know!’ I said, rummaging through the junk drawer trying to find a hair band whilst tugging the Brush That Cannot Be Moved through my hair. I keep going over the left side but it’s still sticking out. ‘Tell Son to take the dog out!’
Five minutes… we have five minutes.
Daughter appears in bedroom doorway. Her kilt is three inches above her knees and she can’t do up the waist. The jumper ends at her elbow. She is regarding me with accusation in her eyes.
‘My uniform feels funny.’
‘Chirst! Rob! You’ve laid out her uniform from when she was in year 2!’ (Daughter is now year 5.)
Rob is walking around the landing saying ‘we have to go now or I’ll be late…’
I leap for the wardrobe and throw everything out as quickly as I can. Right in the corner, under a wall of woven together barbies, I find her uniform. Clearly shoved there on the last day of term and has not seen the light of day since.
‘Quick, quick put it on!’ I start yanking at daughter’s jumper, trying to brush her hair at the same time. It looks like this.
Daughter recognises these are dangerous times and stops complaining. She gets dressed in the right uniform in seconds and, seeing the look on my face, doesn’t comment on it being smelly, but I know she’s thinking it.
We are now three minutes PAST when we had to leave. She is clutching a teddy to take her mind off the pain my frantic brushing is causing. Rob is getting increasingly irate. I interrupt his moaning: ‘Make sure you get Son to take the dog out before you go!’
‘We’ll be late!’ Rob calls back.
‘It won’t take a minute!’ I plait at the speed of light. A few bits are poking out but I poke them back in and hope for the best. ‘Right, you’re done, sweetie – off you go, Daddy’s waiting.’
‘I’ve haven’t brushed my teeth!’ She opens her mouth and breathes on me. I rear back in horror. ‘Jesus! OK quick, go and brush your teeth.’
She runs out to the bathroom, I placate Rob. ‘Two minutes, she’ll be two minutes.’
Has Son taken the dog out?’. Son has disappeared. Rob checks his watch and tuts. My blood pressure continues to soar.
There are sounds of a tussle coming from the bathroom. In I charge. ‘What the hell is going on! We should have left five minutes ago!’
They are both lying on the floor wrestling over something. It’s a blue toothbrush.
‘Give. It. Back!’ Son is saying.
‘I have to brush my teeth!’ Daughter screams.
‘It’s my toothbrush! You can’t use it!’
‘But I can’t FIND MINE!’ Yanks at the toothbrush Son is clutching.
I wade in and physically separate them. I find a toothbrush in the top drawer and give it to daughter whilst pushing a still protesting son out of the bathroom. As daughter puts on toothpaste and starts to brush I suppress a nasty thought that the last time I saw that toothbrush it was when I brushed the dog’s teeth.
Ten minutes PAST go time. Rob is now out of the house in his car, revving. I physically block the bathroom door so son can’t come in to do his usual last minute poo.
‘You’ll have to hold it until you get to school,’ I snarl. He decides not to push it and runs for the door. He can barely move under the weight of his school bag, kit bag, games bag and violin. Daughter is ready! I throw bags at her until they stick and drape her coat over the top.
‘Off you go, darling!’ I say merrily, giving her a kiss. Have a lovely day!’ I shut the door. I bump into something. The dog looks up at me with pleading eyes. She is a nanosecond away from peeing on the rug. I can just see it.
I open the door and she cannons out into the garden and pees for about an hour. The look on her face is priceless. As she trots back in I grab my coat and bag and lock the door. I check my watch. My year 11’s will be filing into my classroom in seven minutes. School is five minutes away. I start to run.