The secret to punctuality is, apparently, ensuring you have plenty of time to complete your journey.
For the record, last Friday we did set off on the school run with “plenty of time” up our sleeves. If, of course, by “plenty of time” you mean enough for a normal school run in which:
a) Mr Justice might get a last-minute life-threatening papercut requiring immediate medical attention; OR
b) The Pixie might suddenly announce a previously undeclared desire to ride her tricycle to school and then throw a “WHY??” tantrum, the length of which far exceeds the time it would have taken to find her helmet on and get the tricycle out of the garage; OR
c) I have to break up a shit-fight between The Pixie and Tiddles “Hurricane” McGee Every. Five. Steps over who is sitting in the stroller.
Of course a normal school run might contain one of these types of incidents, maybe two… But all three? In this case, the concept of “plenty of time” might stretch into hours, maybe even days. In the words of one wise woman (me): you can’t plan for that shit.
Glancing at my watch, I realised I had to make a decision: we could all make a run for it and arrive just in time with me red-faced and sweating, screaming at everyone like a crazy bitch OR we could just walk slowly but surely and take the late pass on the chin. For me, it was a no-brainer but for Mr Justice, conscientious to the last, it was an agonising decision.
“Relax,” I said to him in my most soothing, maternal voice. “It’s just a piece of paper.” Which became my own little mantra during that long, long walk to school. Just a piece of paper, just a piece of paper, just a piece of paper…
As I entered the school office six minutes after the bell, I had a benign, almost saint-like smile on my face and asked for a late pass in the way that I might have asked for a double scoop of Butterscotch in a wafer cone on a sunny afternoon at the seaside.
Of course, my mask of serenity slipped somewhat when the lady behind the desk asked me for my reason for being late. I like to think it was a little like that moment in The Lord of the Rings films when Cate Blanchett grows into the Dark Terrible Queen because the look I gave her said, in no equivocal terms, “WHERE DO I FUCKING START?”
However, I managed to reign that Dark Terrible Queen in and instead flash her a sunny smile.
“Uh, maybe you could write ‘Walk To School Day turned into Brawl To School Day?'” I suggested, brightly. “Or even ‘Mother On The Edge’?”
After that, the lady behind the desk could not issue that Late Pass fast enough. As she handed it to me, I noticed that in the “Reason” box she had written “Running late”.
“Running late?” I thought to myself as I walked home. “RUNNING LATE?” And instantly became consumed by the red mists of utter outrage.
My internal monologue went something like this:
How can your reason for being late be ‘running late’? It doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t. Make. Sense. It’s like saying “I am sleepy because I am tired.” Or even “My reason for that particular homicide was because I was feeling distinctly murderous at the time, your honour.”
I mean, I may as well go round saying “I am late because I am late.” Which would be just about as meaningless and stupid as the piece of green paper it would inevitably be written on.
Stupid late passes.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my revised mantra all the way home. Stupid late passes, stupid late passes, stupid stupid STUPID LATE PASSES.
All together now…