My stress levels are very high at the moment. I’m being a right miserable old cow. Rob and the children have realised it’s probably best to leave me alone until I come out of this – what do I call it – Rage Cave? Stress Swamp? Oh dear me, it’s terrible. I’m writing this with awful indigestion, caused by too much wine last night, still in bed, and filled with a murderous fury. Rob tried to suggest it was hormones until he saw the look on my face and hastily backtracked out of the room offering tea as he went down the stairs.
I should be happy. I should be singing to the roof tops with delight as finally, finally, IT’S THE EASTER HOLIDAYS! I’m hoping, as – I’m sure – are the rest of the family, I will be back to my jolly, happy self tomorrow. I thought venting might be a good idea, so here I am, writing a blog with Daughter playing a REALLY annoying noisy game next to me, occasionally singing very loudly a very stupid song about a chicken. I am having to bite my tongue to stop myself snarling at her like some dreadful Gruffalo before returning back under the covers. WHY IS THERE NO GAVISCON IN THE HOUSE? I buy bloody packs of the stuff. Where does it go?
Today is Sunday. The last day of term was an absolute nightmare. I was hoping it would be a fairly relaxed day. I only had a couple of double lessons, an assembly and off they jolly well would go. But no. A number of tricky, delicate issues cropped up which required immediate and careful handling and took up about three or four hours, stretching that last day of term well into late evening. At the time I didn’t resent it – there were some pupils who needed support and care and that’s what I’m paid to do. But it was exhausting. By the time I got back home the only thing I wanted to do was drink a bucket of wine and eat Chinese food. Both of which are guaranteed to make me feel crap in the morning but I DIDN’T CARE.
Daughter is now singing, ‘I’m a Knight, I’m a Knight, and my only aim in life is to fight’ where does she hear these insane songs?
The Day of Doom begun on Saturday morning. The children came into our room in the morning, crazy with joy because it was the first day of the holidays. I took a good, hard look at them. Daughter was wearing some gorgeous Cath Kidson pyjamas I bought her last year. I hadn’t seen them for a while. ‘Jesus, Rob – look at the children!’ I said in horror.
Daughter has had a recent growth spurt and this picture demonstrates how much she has grown in the last few months. The trouser legs are inches above her ankles. But worse than that was the indelible pen stains all over them and the giant rip in the knee. How the hell did that happen? Turning to Son we see his pyjamas are in exactly the same state. This is what Rob and I think of when we look at them.
London Slum Children, picture found at 19th Century Blog
Oh the shame, the shame. We have been so busy at work our children now look like unkempt, unloved tramps. I ordered them to dump their pyjamas in the bin. ‘You’ve plenty of lovely pyjamas! I trilled, leaping out of bed, ignoring my thumping headache and the sound of undigested wine sloshing around in my stomach. ‘Let’s get you packed, shall we?’ I did not want a repeat of my disastrous weekend off when I left the packing to Rob.
The whining begins: ‘We haven’t got anything to weeaarrrrr…. nothing fiitttssss.’
‘Don’t be silly!’ I responded gaily, sweeping to their bedrooms. ‘We did a big shop only a few months ago! You have lots of wonderful new clothes to wear.’ As I approached their wardrobes I slow down in apprehension as I remember that, actually, we DID do a big shop, but it was last January. Over a year ago.
They were right. Apart from one extravagant party dress (Daughter’s) and an over sized hoodie (Son’s ) absolutely nothing fits them. And there are no pyjamas.
‘Why didn’t you tell me before?’ I yelled, my face red and sweaty having forced a number of tiny outfits on increasingly reluctant children who seemed to have morphed into great hunks of people in the last five minutes. There was certainly nothing suitable for three weeks in muddy countryside with the forecast undecided between snow and/or balmy Spring weather.
Because they tend to just lounge around in their school uniforms during the week and I work Sunday, I hadn’t noticed they’d grown out of everything. I packed up three bin bags of clothes and put them by the door ready to take to the charity shop over the road. I guarantee those bags will still be there next year.
As I walked across the landing, I noticed a letter I had received from a well-known high street store. It was a card type loyalty voucher offering ‘50% off your first shop if you spend over £100!’
Brilliant! I thought. Being the end of the month I was skint, so this was ideal. ‘Right! We’re going to the shops!’
Rob generously offered to look after Dog at home and away I went with the children into town. In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: Big mistake. Huge.
Town was RAMMED. I mean knocking people with your elbows walking down the High Street rammed. ‘I don’t like it, Mummy,’ Daughter said, leaning on me so hard I had to struggle to stay upright. (It drives me mad when she does this) ‘I don’t like it either, Darling,’ I replied, but we’ll be in the shop soon and we will get some lovely, lovely new clothes.’
Finally we reach the shop, and within minutes I was weighed down with clothes, shoes, coats and new pyjamas. Off we went to the till where a young man who looked very, very nervous and whose hands shook throughout the entire transaction served us. He made me feel so anxious I found myself calling out reassuringly, ‘No rush! Don’t worry! We aren’t in a hurry!’ I don’t think it worked as he kept getting himself in a real muddle and throwing away hangers we wanted to keep and putting the ones we didn’t want in the bag. He’d then stop. Realise in horror what he had done, blush to the roots of his hair, sweat now shining on his forehead, before slowly rectifying his mistake.
When all was done he rang up the total and I smugly handed over the discount card. WHICH DIDN’T WORK! He had to phone head office who declined the voucher and told him ‘they were not at liberty to discuss with anyone but the cardholder as to the reasons why.’ I assumed that meant they wanted to speak to me directly, but Nervous Boy hung up before I could get hold of the phone.
Sighing, I wiped my account with the 50% more than expected charge. Feeling murderous by this stage I phoned the number he gave me where a woman with the most enunciated voice I had ever heard informed me, ‘it won’t work until you have activated the card by email, Madam. This is CLEARLY detailed on the form you were sent, and no, I’m afraid we can’t backdate the discount on the goods you have already purchased. As I said, Madam, this is CLEARLY printed on the letter…’ I don’t know what she said after that as the rage was causing my ears to ring.
Walking out of the shop, vowing never to return, carrying eight million bags of clothes, I was struggling home through the crowds hoping the children were behind me, but fearful to turn round – like Orpheus – when I remembered another reason I was in town was to buy Easter gifts for the staff in my part of the school. ‘Fuck’s Sake!’ I whisper wearily, turning against the crowds like a fish going upstream to buy 11 Easter Eggs. Do you know how bulky they are?
So. Now carrying twenty billion bags but with the joyful accompaniment of the children moaning about how long this was taking and if we didn’t get home they were going to ‘pass out and die’, I made my way home. With a sigh of relief, I dumped the bags and realised the OTHER thing I was supposed to get was drops for my eye which – as it always does the first day of the holiday – had developed a nasty case of conjunctivitis.
I knew if I didn’t get the drops it would blow up into something really nasty so I went back into town AGAIN. They only had ointment. Typical.
Now the thing about ointment is that it not only looks gross, but it means you can’t see anything. Remember, I only have one good eye, so you have to imagine all of the following events occurred with me squinting through a thick film of greasy ointment. My eye was too sore not to use it so I just had to put up with it.
While I was out with the children, Rob had finished a leisurely cup of coffee, had a little nap, and – to be fair to him – packed all the food, drink and general kitchen accouterments we had to take to our house. He had also carried out all the bags of fresh and frozen food and put them in the car.
This is great. A pain of a job, but he’d done it calmly and methodically so a large part of the work had been done. Brilliant.
Unfortunately, this is where Rob felt his responsibilities ended, so he went out AND SAT IN THE CAR!
Leaving me with the children, my own packing and a bonkers Dog who was jumping around like Zebedee, delirious with joy at no longer having to wear a cone. This bouncing was interspersed with protracted, loving, and methodical cleaning of her backside – she hasn’t been able to reach it for a week – which was enough to turn the strongest of stomachs.
Blinking furiously to read the number on my phone, I called Rob to scream at him, turning the air blue when, yet again, I stubbed my toe on the 5 kilo weights he’d left on the bedroom floor and which I had asked him to move FOUR TIMES ALREADY!
He was not at all contrite, pointing out that he had already done a lot of work and the children were old enough to pack their own stuff. Which was fair enough.
I stumped round the house muttering and cursing. I still couldn’t see anything. I spent the next half an hour yelling, ‘Get down, Dog!’ and ‘Will you go and get everything packed, NOW!’ to the children who had decided to put on some kind of fucking fashion show and were walking up and down the corridor wearing their new clothes, each commenting on the other’s choices, completely oblivious to their fuming, squinting, oily-eyed mother, who was tearing her hair out.
Eventually, they realised I really was getting quite angry, and they started doing as they were told and Son, bless him, circled me warily asking if he could help with anything. Feeling awash with guilt at being such a cow I gave them both a hug and said sorry for being so awful. Reassured, he lugged down all the remaining cases whilst Daughter took the Dog out to the car. Son ran back in and without prompting, brought me a large glass of fizzy water with ICE CUBES, to cheer me up.
I could have sat down and wept. ‘I don’t deserve these children when I am so horrible to them,’ I thought.
When we arrived at our house the birds were singing. It wasn’t too cold and I could see signs of Spring stirring all over the garden. My shoulders dropped and I realised I was deathly, deathly tired. Without a word, I walked like a zombie into the house, lay down on the bed and slept like the dead for two hours. That night we all went over to our brilliant neighbours and consumed large amounts of curry and lots of wine and I laughed until I felt sick.
This morning, Rob has wisely taken the children out so I can just sit in bed and recover. He reminds me I am like this every time the term ends – I always forget – and I allow myself to gradually wind down. Writing this has acted as poultice sucking out all of the anger and stress which had worked it’s way so deep into my bones. I’m going to have a hot bath, read a good book and take it easy. I think my batteries had completely depleted, turning me into the bitch from hell who terrified everyone around her. My poor family!
Oh and by the way, you know I said I would never go into that shop again? Well it turns out Nervous Boy forgot to take the security tag off one of Son’s tops. I don’t know why it didn’t set off the alarm. Eye roll.
Now I am ready for the holidays. Bring ’em on!