Monday, 31 October 2011

THE SCHOOL RUN: PART 2 (OR WHY THE F**K DON'T I JUST HOME-EDUCATE AND BE DONE WITH IT?)

I live within walking distance of my children’s school, a beautiful seven-minute stroll through a forest of ivy-clad oak trees, ferns, ladybirds, and a stream. But before you stab me in the face with your car keys, let me tell you what it’s really like.

First, there’s the seven-minute thing. 'Seven minutes' invites complacency. If you’re told that a journey will take you seven minutes, you think, “Oh, I’ll be there in no time.” So you fuck about. Seven minutes is not like an hour, which you take seriously, which you allow time for. If you live within a seven-minute-walk of your children’s school, you either need to be a) Allyson Lewis, whose bestseller ‘The Seven Minute Difference’ shows you how to break your actions into seven-minute micro-actions (but who, sadly, looks like a reptile) or you need b) an Atomic Clock that loses less than one second every BILLION years and also shouts at you. Now I don’t have an Atomic Clock. I have a collection of time-keeping devices that are so wholly evil that they lose a minute every day, probably every minute. I may as well use an hourglass.

By the time I have reached the stream in the forest, I am usually so late that to get me to the school on time would require the intervention of a Time Lord. So I run. By the time I reach the road that leads to the school, my core body temperature is about 105 degrees and I require hospitalisation. But with hospital not being an option, I persevere onwards towards The School Gate.

Now you’d think I’d be relieved to see The School Gate. You’d think I’d see it as the last lap, the homeward stretch. But I don’t. Because The School Gate was designed by a bastard. It is narrower than you can ever imagine, with three treacherous open-sided steps. Worse, there is always a stampede of people coming towards you from the opposite direction, so much so that you wonder if somebody has seen an actual lion. It takes me at least two more minutes to safely negotiate it, during which time I see my two children, outside their classrooms, wearing forlorn disappointed expressions. One of them, my littlest one, my baby boy, is being sheltered by his teacher, and is mouthing the words “Mami forgetted me”, over and over.

Well babies, I didn’t forget you. I love you. I really do. It’s just that, you know, other people get to drive their kids to school. They don’t have to dodge ladybirds, and oak trees, or perform seven-minute micro-actions on a daily basis, or EVER run. They are lucky bastards.  If they only knew.







Sunday, 23 October 2011

BIN DAY

Today is the day before Bin Day. And although it’s only ten o clock in the morning, I am already in the grip of pre-Bin Day nerves.

For those of you blessed with a normal psychological profile, pre-bin day nerves is a nasty condition characterised by irrational anxieties about bins - and particularly bin collection. Imagine you’re in the middle of some humdrum housewifely activity, like watching your tears dissolve in the washing-up suds, when a question pops into your head. The first question might be mischievous, even playful, like “What happens if I forget to take out the bins?” or “What happens if I take out the wrong bins?” But then it all gets a little crazy, as in, “If I can’t entirely close the lid of the black wheelie bin (and the bin therefore represents a dire infringement of council health and safety guidelines because it is not hermetically f**king sealed), what is the maximum gap permissible between the lid of the bin and the body of the bin before the bin-men refuse to take the bin?” And “Will I get an orange contamination sticker if any unsuitable items are found in my bins? If I get a sticker, will I be seized by such a spectrum of irrational emotions (ranging from humiliation and feelings of hopelessness right through to rage and finally depression) that I end up in the loony Bin? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….. (please help me…)

I know there are practical solutions, like subscribing to the council’s text reminder service, but whenever an incoming text hits my phone, it makes a sound only audible to whales. Furthermore, I’m not allowed to place my bins on the kerbside before 4.30pm, because if I do, there will be seagulls, and wolves, and possibly locusts, and the village will look like Egypt after the Ten Plagues of Yahweh, or in other words, like shit. So just to recap, as it’s still only ten in the morning, I have a whole six hours to forget to take the bins out, and only another 13 and a half hours to re-remember.   

As for worrying about taking out the wrong bins, yes, I have downloaded the Council’s Waste Collection Calendar, so yes, I know that black bins are collected fortnightly, and green bins are collected weekly. But I’m a ‘lunar month’ kind of girl. I go by the ebb and flow of my menstrual cycle. If I’m rocking psychiatrically in the children’s playhouse in the garden, and there are huge ugly crescents of zits on each cheek, and I’m eating a Haribo Mega Party Pack, including the plastic, then it’s day 26. If I’m shouting ‘jizz’ in my sleep, and acting like a complete and utter whore, it’s day 13. So as far as I’m concerned, the Waste Collection Calendar is just a piece of sexist, phallocratic dogshit.

And if all this angsty bin collection crap weren’t enough, what about the shimmering, maggoty lakes of disease at the bottom of the wheelie bin? It’s bad enough when you get hit by spray from a toilet brush, but when it’s bin juices, and it catches you on the top lip, or worse, in the eye, then depending on the incubation period of the particular disease you have undoubtedly contracted, it’s only days before you get nose bleeds, and jaundice, and festering boils, and you start to look like Zommer from Moshi Monsters.

I’m starting to think that the only real solution to my pre-Bin Day nerves thing is to get my partner to do it. In some households the men are responsible for the bins!!! Can you believe it?!!! Last week, I told my partner this, who then explained, very patiently, that although he was aware of the practice, he didn’t want to patronise me.  I was so touched that I cried and cried into the washing-up suds. And then I took the bins out.

Monday, 17 October 2011

NOT QUITE A BLUBBERFEST ...

I’m not accustomed to awards. In my experience, awards were what you got if, instead of lying on your bed fantasising about Simon Le Bon and/or dreaming up spectacular ways of killing yourself to punish your parents, you practised your viola for five hours every night.

But now it seems I’ve won the Liebster Blog Award, courtesy of award-winning mummy blogger Older Mum, and the rules say I have to blog about it! I don’t know what the fuck a Leibster Blog Award is, but who cares! I’ve not been this happy since my mother reassured me that although she didn’t like me, she still loved me. Gee mom, thanks. That means a lot. 

I do realise, of course, that awards are just a shallow motivational device to get people hooked on Capitalism (cue deafening applause from parents who send their kids to Steiner schools), because if they weren’t, my extraordinary record of underachievement, dysfunction and just plain making a hash of things, would have been recognised earlier. 

After all, I reckon I hold the record for:
  1.  The most driving lessons undertaken  – 155 - before taking a first driving test.  
  2.  The biggest nipple cracks ever sustained during a single breastfeeding session. (I don’t have pictures, you freaks, but see the River Grande Gorge, New Mexico, or Valleris Marineris, Mars, if you need visuals.)  
  3.  The most chocolate hobnobs consumed in one sitting. I was a student okay? 
  4. The most heinous examples of blasphemy and Anglo-Saxon sexual vernacular ever put together in one sentence whilst accidentally taking the exit for a motorway slip road. (P.S with my mother in the passenger seat, traumatised.)
  5.  The most grotesque health-and-safety freak-out in the history of pregnancy.
But as usual, I’ve gone off at a narcisstic tangent. (Honestly, is there no possibility of some decent ‘me’ time anymore?) Turns out I’ve got to nominate five other new-ish undiscovered-ish bloggers for the award.  So here goes:

The (Nearly!) Perfect Mother - for her fantastic storytelling abilities. If you want to read about Iggle Piggle’s clandestine cross-dressing, or the awkward threesome with The Gruffalo, look no further. 

...And PND Makes Three  - for writing funny, brave, honest accounts of PND and for coining the term ‘Motherexia’. A blogger with a really strong voice. 

Chatty Baby  - for managing to pull off a beautifully crafted blog from the perspective of a very opinionated chatty baby. Enchanting.  

How To Be A Domestic Disgrace  - for the pictures of a cupcake and a dead fly, the f**ked-up jelly cat, and for being so bloody witty all the time.

Motherventing – for inventing the best strap-line in the history of blogging … ever!  "Taking all the fluffier aspects of parenting and totally shitting all over them." Genius. 

Not quite a blubberfest, but it's the best I could do!! 

Monday, 10 October 2011

WHY I'M NOT MARRIED

I thought I was a good person. I buy The Big Issue. I have never amputated a daddy long legs. I don’t covet my neighbour’s husband (even when he is chopping logs and the sweat is pouring down his back … ahem…cough... ). So imagine my shock when Tracey McMillan’s Huffington Post column, “Why You’re Not Married’, informs me that the reason I’m still unmarried is because I am either a bitch, a slut, a liar, shallow, selfish, or not good enough!

(Well Tracey, for your information, I’m definitely not shallow.)

Of course, this isn’t the first time my domestic situation has been the focus of moral panic. In the early days, my poor long-suffering mother was so "sickened to the core" by my sordid shacking-up experiment that she refused to enter our house. Instead she would stay in the car outside (whilst my father came in to see us), weeping with a gusto not seen since the days of the prophet Jeremiah.  At some point, my father would take her a flask of coffee, and from our vantage point inside the house of sin, we would watch her wind down the car's misty windows, ever so slightly, to receive the offering.

My mother has since accepted the situation. But there are still those who think it their duty to point me towards the Altar of Hymen. A man in my neighbourhood – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – often calls me Mrs J, and once introduced me as “unmarried” to a member of the PTA. Have mercy for heaven’s sake! Not the PTA!! My next-door neighbours –YOU ALSO KNOW WHO YOU ARE – bought me a wedding planner!

It is not that I am against marriage. Jane Austen rocks. I like Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. And I loved Four Weddings and a Funeral (except for that lame exchange at the end when that whining irritating fine actress Andie Mac Dowell says, “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.” Well of course it is you dozy cow. Get a f**kin pac-a-mac.) But I digress.

It’s just that the idea of all that wedding decision-making brings me out in hives. I'm someone who agonises over the question “What’s your favourite colour?” Deciding what to make for tea is a daily nightmare that begins at about three o'clock with a simple question, but ends, two hours later, with me staring catatonically into a bleak, rancid fridge, as a foul-mouthed demonic presence in my brain shouts "beans, fish fingers, bread, eggs, bread for godsakes, fuckin beans, sausages, chips, what the fuck is wrong with you …" and so on and so on… until I cave in and phone my lovely partner who is not my husband, sobbing.

You see? It just wouldn't be nice. 


Monday, 3 October 2011

POSITIVE MANTRA


If there’s one thing at which I excel, it’s under-achievement. I can imagine few more humiliating things in life than a girls night out/pub quiz in the company of Karren Brady, Nicola Horlicks, or Christine f**king Lagarde.  

Over-achievers suck. I mean, what’s so wrong with doing well at school, going to university, doing a post-graduate degree, getting a really exciting job that’s full of prospects, and then, you know, doing nothing for six years!  (And when I say nothing, I mean raising three kids, but not having a CAREER or ‘IT ALL’…)

So anyway, I thought I’d create an alternative list of skills I don’t have, especially for my partner – who today told me I trade on my insecurities. And since feeling inadequate is obviously the cornerstone of my identity, my main social currency, I should probably rehearse this list aloud every morning, preferably in the mirror, just before the school run.   This would be put me in the correct frame of mind for taking the piss out of myself at the school gates in front of the hospital consultant, company director, and lawyer parents.      

So here goes:

1) I can’t wink with my left eye.  (My left eye is a useless ball of goo.  As a kid, I wore glasses. One lens was so spectacularly magnified it looked like Cyclops had walked into the playground.)

2. I can’t whistle. (Minor motor skills are SO over-rated.)

3. I can’t blow balloons up.  (See above.)

4) I can’t join motorways.  (Being on a slip road is like suddenly having Satan pop up in the back of your car, wailing and bellowing and screaming “faster faster for fucksakes” in your ear, and “look really quickly in the side mirror with your one good eye you useless cow”.)

5) I can’t uncork bottles.  

6) I can’t do a French plait.

7) I can’t gargle. This is of course a total nightmare, a real bloody hindrance in life.

And finally….

8) I can’t ride a bike. (About which I don’t give a shiny shite. Who wants to sit on a seat that makes you feel like you’ve got a huge misshapen sanitary towel wedged up your ass anyway, and especially when said bike massively increases your chances of, you know, BEING KILLED.)

Hey, my life-coach would be proud of me.

PS There are plenty of things I can do (she says, grinning gleefully), but that’s one for another blog … maybe …