We are back, back in the school groove thang. It has only been two days and I am on my knees.
The problem, I have ascertained is the perennial issue that I am just not a morning person. I need school to start at about eleven in the morning. I am happy for them to finish later in the day, as long as I am allowed a small snooze at four, when my batteries are at their lowest. I am not very bulky. I would fit under a desk somewhere, just for twenty minutes. Then we could start again.
The other thing with school days is that they are a bit like uncomfortable knickers, they bunch up in inaccessible and painful places, and require fiddling with to make them manageable.
The two worst parts of the day are the start, and the bit I call the wind down, except that it isn’t a wind down for me.
Through long experience I have learned that because I am not a morning person the answer is not to pretend that it isn’t morning, or that it isn’t a morning where I need to do a lot of stuff. In the past I have frequently tried this option with a) going to school in my pyjamas because I have thrown myself out of bed at the last minute b) leaving everything to the children and c) trusting to the gods that all will be well.
This does not work.
The gods are asleep, the children are indifferent unless we are on the subject of Minecraft, the awfulness of school dinners, or where the next chocolate biscuit is coming from, and my pyjamas are shameful and make me look like Mr. Stink.
The answer is to get up a long time before I need to actually go out.
I am very sad that this is the answer.
I actually prayed that this would not be the answer, because I am not a self sacrificing type of girl, who thrills to the idea of getting up and bustling about the house bathed in sun rays of domestic bliss, serving my children and husband. I am the sort of woman who does the scuffle scowl two step whilst nursing a coffee resentfully against my bosom and shouting at inanimate objects in the manner of the town drunk.
So, I have to get up earlier than early, just so that I can do everything that needs to be done, and still drink fourteen cups of coffee and stare at Facebook before I go out.
I have also worked out another sad thing. The other sad thing is that if I want to prep the dinner to put in the slow cooker before I go out in the morning, it is not a good idea to think ‘Oh, I’ve got bags of time, I’ll do that last.’ I never do.
So, I get up, feed the cat and let her out, and then, while my coffee is brewing I sort out the dinner for the night. I do not allow a single jolt of caffeine to enter my system until the dinner is on, because otherwise I allow myself to fall into the ‘ahhh, coffee’ reverie and then we are late, and I snap out of it to find myself meditating wistfully over a half peeled potato.
The promise of coffee is much like the ribbon stretched across the finish line, I have found. It is my reward for being good.
So, after the dinner is on, I allow myself to pour and smell the coffee, but then do not drink it until the dish washer is emptied, the laundry is on and the small children have their breakfast.
After that it is coffee nirvana time, and I have earned it.
By the time the first cup is down the hatch I am ready to make sure that children have their clothing on in some kind of correct order, that shoes, coats, book bags and p.e. bags are by the front door and that they have been despatched upstairs to brush teeth and put the final touches to their toilette.
These final touches generally involve shouting at each other, with the possible throwing of hair brushes.
It always involves unfeasibly large lumps of toothpaste smothered about the bathroom with gay abandon and left to harden into concrete lumps.
By the time the second cup of coffee has been despatched we are on to the thorny issues of what things they have forgotten. This is prime Tilly territory as in; ‘Mama, I need nine thousand pounds in twenty pence pieces, do you have them?’ etc.
There is always a thorny issue, which ensures that the drive to school is played out to the accompaniment of me grinding my teeth and swearing in a Tony Soprano stylie.
If you find me dead in a ditch at the side of the A47, with all the nerves in my head standing out like whip cords, do not be surprised. Just throw a blanket over me and nod your head wearily whilst intoning the words: ‘The school run done got her.’
Once we are at school, things go relatively smoothly until we have to leave, and then everything happens in reverse.
At the time when I barely have the energy to clasp the steering wheel and point it at home.
Home time is generally rather drawn out. We think we’re leaving and then someone realises that a) they have someone else’s jumper b) they have the wrong shoes on c) they haven’t got their homework etc. Usually this happens in a kind of choral call and response type way with each of them forgetting things in turn.
Sometimes I am so driven to despair by this I then forget things to, just so that I don’t feel left out.
If we don’t have lessons, play dates, dentistry, hair cuts, library visits etc to deal with, we go home only for me to be faced with finishing off the dinner, pegging out the laundry, folding the dry laundry, thinking about what things the children might need tomorrow that are a) dirty and need washing and drying b) in a shop somewhere and need buying c) homework related and require my input before we all die of exhaustion and I can no longer spell my own name.
This is normal. Every woman (and maybe a few men) reading this will be nodding their head in weary acknowledgement of all of these things that must be done at the two times of day you least want to do them. I am not claiming to be unique.
I am just wistful for the holidays, when if you are still in your pyjamas by eleven nobody cares, and you can drink three cups of coffee before even thinking about what you might want to eat for dinner eight hours hence.
I am also thinking about the fact that my husband, who, I freely admit, has an incredibly stressful job in which he has to juggle things and people in such a way that I would either weep or go postal within two hours of attempting to do what he does, will often say: ‘But you don’t really ‘do’ anything do you? I don’t know why you’re tired.’
He claims to say this ironically, but sometimes I think he more than half means it.