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Posts Tagged ‘late for school’

I was almost disappointed when we made it to school on time the other day and I didn’t get to write down ‘Tiddles McGee’s Arse Explosion’ as our excuse for being late. Yes, a last minute trip to the toilet by my youngest child put our (so far) perfect punctuality record for 2010 in jeopardy for a few minutes there. And for the record, ‘Tiddles McGee’s Arse Explosion’ a just like ‘Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion‘, except it’s brown instead of blue.

Anyway, it turned out I had another explosion to deal with – of the yellow variety. Having had to run through the school grounds to deliver assorted children to their classrooms on time, I arrived triumphantly at The Pixie’s classroom only to feel what can only be described as a ‘Tena Lady Moment’.

Of course, there had to be a large group of attractive, well-dressed mothers milling about just outside said classroom. And of course, I had to be wearing jeans at the time and we all know how blue denim showcases wet patches as beautifully as if I’d taken a photo of my sodden crotch and posted it on twitter.

“Running late is so stressful,” one of the mums said to me sympathetically, misreading the look of horror on my face.

It was so tempting to reply “So is pissing your own pants!” in front of everyone. Except I’ve learnt to hold my tongue a little better since the time one of the school dads told me to “have fun” with my (newly fixed) washing machine and I found myself exclaiming “What kind of a fun are you suggesting, exactly??” while crowds of fellow parents stood and stared.

So instead, I just smiled and nodded and, sensing my wet patch might be growing at a similar rate to the population of New Mexico, slunk off as quickly as possible out of the school grounds and back to the car. And it was then that I found I was still holding The Pixie’s school bag in my hand.

I was wondering what I should do when another mum came up to me and started chatting and, before either of us knew it, I suddenly blurted out: “We were late for school and I had to run and I kind of lost control of my bladder and now I have to walk all the way back to The Pixie’s classroom because I still have her bag in my hand and everyone’s still standing around in the playground and they will all see my piss pants!”

Had I known her a little better, I might have then been able to ask her to assess the damage. But the moment my confession was made, it was like an invisible line was drawn at shoulder level and neither my eyes nor hers were able to wander below it for even a second.

She quickly made her excuses and I headed back into the school to drop The Pixie’s bag off, adopting the awkward gait of someone who is trying to walk without their thighs separating.

Of course, the same group of mums were still standing around, still looking attractive and well-dressed.

“I forgot Pixie’s bag!” I called out cheerfully to them, explaining my reappearance, but perhaps not the strange way I was walking. Thankfully, they quickly returned to chatting amongst themselves and I, blushing from head to soon-to-be waterlogged toe, delivered the bag to the classroom and scurried back to the car.

Once I got home, I rushed straight to the toilet so I could finally inspect the full extent of my shame. And was surprised to discover that the seemingly ginormous wet patch was actually the size of a ten cent coin and would only have been visible to someone attempting to do the limbo under my crotch.

I mean, sheesh! No wonder they call it stress incontinence.

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On a good morning, our family “walking bus” will set off at a leisurely pace and I will sign my daughter in at the kindergarten at 8:45am and get my son to school in ample time for the 9 o’clock bell, with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

On a slightly less good morning, I will thrust my daughter into the arms of a unsuspecting parent outside the kindergarten, begging them to take her in, and I will then sprint the rest of the way to the school, my brow furrowed and  jaw slightly clenched.

On a bad morning, I will end up driving my son to school first to make that 9 o’clock bell, and then drop my daughter at the kindergarten some 20 minutes after the session started, my fly undone and my hair still wet, and a stream of “Shitty fuckin’ fucks” in my wake.

On a really bad morning, I will probably repeat the MO for a bad morning but with a Late Pass issued by the school office thrown in for good measure. And then I’ll come home from the school run, heart still pounding, adrenaline a-pumping and feeling all vague and woozy through lack of food. I will go to make toast only to discover petrified bread already in the toaster is from the last time I’d tried to make myself breakfast three days ago. I will instead decide to perform my morning ablutions, which I have had to put off all morning because it appears to have been “International Hit Your Siblings With a Rubber Mallet Day”. I will then be interrupted from said ablutions by a small boy who has put both hands in the honey tub and is now crying because his hands are ‘sticky’. While cleaning him up in the bathroom, I will subsequently discover that my seemingly wet hair is actually no longer wet and is just incredibly greasy because I forgot to shampoo it in the 30 second shower I managed to have before one of the kids had started screaming again because they’d been hit on the head with a rubber mallet. I will then discover my favourite bra sopping wet, stuffed with partially-chewed sultanas and  My Little Pony accessories and stashed behind the bathroom door. I will briefly contemplate returning to bed, possibly never to rise again, but will see the tell-tale ring of grey cat fur on my pillow as evidence of some vindictive anal grooming. I will then kick something in my rage but it will be with the foot where the big toe has a verruca growing under the toenail, which will just make me angrier because a) it fucking hurts and b) I want to know what kind of a person gets something that sounds like a sexually transmitted disease on their foot anyway, and then, while jumping up and down in pain, I will accidentally land on a piece of carefully concealed Bionicle body part. At which point, I will start screaming and flailing my arms and legs about like Animal from The Muppets or like Peter Garret used to before he was made to put on a suit and assume the position for the Rudd Government. And I will probably do this for quite some time.

And then I will finally remember to breathe and it will all be okay again. Except that I’m still hungry and I still need to do a shit. And my almost-three-year-old is probably just about to hit me on the head with a frickin’ rubber mallet.

Welcome to my world.

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Now we all know that sliding doors on vans are meant to be slammed. Previous neighbours of ours proved this with their habit of apparently retrieving each item from the back of their van one by one, taking special care to slam the door in between each retrieval while I lay in my house whale-like at 36 weeks’ pregnancy trying to get some “fucking sleep, you fucking fuckers”. Yes, I really was delightful company during the equally delightful third trimester. You would have enjoyed knowing me. No, really. 

Anyway, the sliding door of The Love Bus is an exception. For one thing, The Love Bus isn’t so much a “van” or even a “people mover”: it is a “Way Of Life”.  For another thing, the door has a history of coming off its hinges.

And so it is little surprise that my husband recently issued firm instructions for me to handle the sliding door “gently”.

Now, between you and me, I suspect we have different concepts of “gentle” – his would be to close it carefully, with your right hand pressed firmly against the back of the door as it shuts. Mine would be to refrain from kicking it violently in a fit of rage or lateness or even lateness-induced rage. 

Still, in my defence, the other morning was a slamming doors kind of day. You see, we were all piling into the Love Bus for the school run when Tiddles McGee had a sudden change of heart and ran back inside the house. So I quickly slammed the Love Bus door to contain the older two kids and ran inside to find McGee in one of his Poo Corners. I then had to wait ten minutes for him to finish (these things can’t be rushed, no matter how much you shout) and then finally changed him – pit-stop style – in the hallway, rushed out of the house (slamming the front door), strapped him into the back of the car and then slammed the Love Bus Door most firmly indeed. Then I discovered I didn’t have my keys on me. Had to sprint around the back of the house to go through the back door (slamming it) to find the keys on the hallway floor next to the unpackaged nappy (no doubt lying in wait for a “slip on the banana-peel”-style slapstick moment for my return home) allowing me to finally leave the house (slamming the front door), jump in the car and DRIVE LIKE HELL TO THE SCHOOL (while keeping within the 50km/hour speed limit).  

Of course Principal Brett had chosen that morning to stand outside the school gates to personally castigate latecomers. And of course there were no parking spots in sight. Luckily my friend Lady Ren was sprinting by and offered to take Mr Justice into the school which instantly turned me into one of Those Parents who dangerously double-park in front of the school (and the Principal) and will probably mean I will be personally named and shamed in the next newsletter. But at least my son was in the school before the bell, eh Brett? Anyway that sliding door was opened and slammed shut in no time at all, leaving me to delivery my daughter to kindergarten 15 minutes late, amidst more slamming of doors and then finally arrive at my morning tea engagement – where I still managed one last slam of that Love Bus door because, you know, I was “in the zone”.

After an hour or so of coffee, cake and pleasant chit-chat, I emerged a much more relaxed person. And it was then that I finally remembered to handle the door gently and it was then – and only then – that the door suddenly came away in my hand and I found myself holding up 25kg of metal in a quiet suburban street. 

But listen up, folks. I’ve decided to apply the same logic that saw my husband’s slipped disc in his lower back blamed on patting a Baby Mr Justice to sleep and not from trying single-handedly to lift and carry his motorbike around a tight corner.

That door broke not because of all that slamming but because I didn’t slam it hard enough. You see, that door was my bitch, and it needed a firm hand, someone to show it who was boss. You can’t go mollycoddling that kind of a door with your trendy-lefty-pinko-macrobiotic-gently-gently idealogy. When all is said and done, it’s a van door and it’s meant to be slammed. 

I rest my case.

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Surprisingly enough, I was terribly excited to bring the summer hats out of hibernation for the school run yesterday morning.

In my defence: a) the sun was shining brightly; b) my children are now all past the age where putting a hat on their heads is considered a mortal insult; and c) I own far more hats than I do hairbrushes. So the fact I hadn’t managed to find anything to brush anyone’s hair was instantly covered-up by… a hat! The perfect crime.

However, I was not to know that an ill-wind blew outside – the kind of wind that would make my woefully under-dressed children shiver in the morning sun and yearn longingly for their coats in a delightfully whiny fashion. 

Nor could I have predicted that, amidst the rush of returning home and gathering together appropriate outerwear, The Pixie’s backpack would end up out of sight and out of mind. And that we wouldn’t realise we’d left it behind until we arrived at the kindergarten.

Nor could I have ever guessed that The Pixie could not have been more devastated at the discovery of this error than if I’d told her pet cat had just died of wind-induced hyperthermia.

So, by the time I’d calmed her down, I found myself staring down the barrel of my 11th late pass for the year and my second within a week. Let’s just say I was very philosophical about it. Some might even say “extremely philosophical”. Of course, I’m assuming here that even the greatest philosophers dropped the F-bomb when they were fucking late.

Still, we hurried on apace, in the hope that somehow… we might… just… make… it… but alas, the bell rang before the school was even in our sights. 

Defeated, Mr Justice and I didn’t even discuss trying our luck at the classroom. Instead, we headed straight for the school office where we joined the throng of late-comers waiting to sign the Late Pass Book. I was about to suggest we nick ’round the corner for a milkshake and come back when the rush-hour was over when a Member of Office Staff arrived and made a surprise announcement.  

“These children don’t need late passes!” she proclaimed. “Not until five minutes past the hour!” And we were ordered to go directly to our classrooms, do not pass “Go”, do not collect a Green Late Pass.

And so I walked home from the school morning, safe in the knowledge that my son was getting an education and not standing in a queue in the school office. And that “ill-wind” suddenly seemed refreshing, like the winds of change blowing through our small school community.

There it was: a Five Minute Late Pass Amnesty. Five. Whole. Minutes. And since at least half of my 10 late passes were issued before the big hand on the clock had even reached the one, this was a gift beyond all gifts. I even shed a small tear, as activists of ages past might have done when they too had brought about social change through their tireless efforts.

And I thought to myself: “Wow! Making snide remarks about school policies in the playground and then bitching about them on your blog followed by doing absolutely nothing else really DOES make a difference.”

It does make a difference, people. It really truly does.

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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…

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Nothing says “Welcome home” more than the sound of all three of your smoke detectors going off. 

You see, I had managed to merrily set off on the school run, leaving biscuits that I’d deemed to need only “a few more minutes” trapped in an oven that was hotter than the sun.

In many ways, it was a good thing I didn’t remember the biscuits until we were actually at the school otherwise I may have been faced with one of those terrible “Get A Late Pass or Save The House” decisions. Somehow, I think the house would have lost out, particularly because I still too much of a soft cock to show my face in the school office (see “Sorry, It’s School Policy“). And it is quite possible I might have regarded the house burning down to the ground as one hell of an effective way to get out of doing the dishes…

But once Mr Justice had been delivered through the school gates, my mission was clear: Get. The. Hell. Home.

Of course, the journey back was fraught with many obstacles: for one thing, we had to swim against the steady stream of parents heading to the school, who said stuff like “Oooh, you’re early today!”, “No late pass today?” and (my favourite) “Did you forget your son?”.

No, I didn’t forget my son! I’m not *that* irresponsible – I’m merely burning the house down!  I felt like shouting. But I didn’t because then they would have said “Oh, why?” and I would have had to explain the whole situation. Which is probably why fire engines have such loud sirens so nobody is tempted to ask them where they’re going or why they’re going there. 

Still, all that nodding and smiling and “Ha ha ha ha!”-ing takes up time and energy, people! But when I finally got clear of the school rush hour, I came face to face with another school mum, carrying her newborn baby.

Now etiquette dictates that you have to pause and fuss over the baby and ask for details of the birth, etc – you can’t just say “Yeah, yeah, nice baby. Sure… Uh, gotta dash! My house is burning down!” It’s just not The Done Thing. 

Also, if the truth be known, I’m a sucker for newborn babies – they’re so itsy-bitsy-ickly-wickly cute with their ‘ittle-wittle ears and fingers and toes and nose and… But I digress.

However, the etiquette surrounding our next encounter was a little less clear. We saw a cute little baby dog running cute little baby dog circles on the road in front of considerably less cute and larger oncoming traffic and somehow “Sorry kids, that cute puppy has to die so that our house may live” just didn’t seem the appropriate thing to say. And so we had to carefully shepherded the dog back across the road to the house he’d run out of, knock on the door, explain to the owner, be thanked by the owner, get away from the owner, etc, etc. ETC. 

After all that, I literally sprinted down the rest of the road pushing the Valco Mobile Home, to find a) the smoke alarms heralding our arrival; b) the house (thankfully) still standing; c) the dishes still undone; and d) the biscuits only fit for use as charcoal to scratch the words “TURN OFF THE OVEN, YOU FREAKING IDIOT” on the inside of the front door for next time. 

What kind of person bakes cookies before the school run, anyway? Sheesh!

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I recently remarked that all people ever seemed to do on facebook was take quizzes, most of which give grammatically-challenged and yet cutting insights into my personality such as “Your eyes always has a smile in them!! Your all about having fun and parting the night away…”. I’m still unsure how I might “part the night away”, unless, of course, there had been an outbreak of lice at the school and I was having to check the entire family’s heads with a fine tooth comb until after 9pm. In which case, I’m not sure where the “having fun” bit comes in. To be quite honest.  

Anyway, a couple of people told me that I wasn’t being very fair about facebook. People do plenty of other things there, they claimed. For example, they join groups (did you know that I counted 27 separate groups called “Stupid” and seven of them have only one member… now that’s stupid!) and they also become “fans” of things (my favourite ever was the invitation to become a fan of “I Hate Waking Up In The Morning!” because it laughed brazenly in the face of grammar and logic). People also like to circulate lists of things about themselves – “25 Random Things About Me” was a popular one a couple of months back, which was shortly followed by “25 Random Things About Myself That You Probably Don’t Want To Know” and then “25 Random Things I Wish I’d Never Read”.

People kept asking me “Oh, NDM. When are you going to do your ‘25 Things’?” but personally, I couldn’t think of 25 things about myself that would even be worth sharing (she says as she publishes her 231st blog post). I decided I should create my own facebook list meme such as “25 things I could have done differently to have avoided a Late Pass this morning” or “25 recipes that take over 30 minutes to prepare that my daughter will dismiss out of hand as bisgusting” or even “25 unidentifiable things found under my son’s bed” (a hard one to do since the things are unidentifiable). But in the end, I felt they all lacked a certain universality…

And then, some four long months after the “25 random things” craze that swept the Facebook nation, I finally compiled the following list:

25 RANDOM THINGS MOTHERHOOD HAS TAUGHT ME (SO FAR)
  1. The school run is a called a “run” for a reason. As in “Run! Run! RUNNNNNNNN! WE’RE SHITTING-FUCKING LATE!!!”
  2. Never feed the children something saturated in sugar and food colouring shortly before doing the grocery shopping or having them interviewed on national television. 
  3. The parenting motto “Be persistent and consistent” only works when you can actually remember what you’re being persistent about. Damn that short-term memory-loss-due-to-long-term-sleep-depriv… What was I saying again?
  4. Those Japanese women were onto something by wearing kimonos: the tiny steps they have to take is all good training for pushing the pram with one of those toddler skateboards attached and/or moving about the house with a small child wrapped around both your legs. 
  5. Being a mother means that both hot and cold drinks will always be drunk as luke-warm drinks and any sentence conveying vital information will never be fini
  6. Never do the school run on foot in your ugg boots: your feet get hotter than the sun and you look Like A Fool. 
  7. Children snacking on sultanas (known as “raisins” to my US reader) may give you that warm fuzzy Good Mother Feeling about them having actually eaten something from the Health Foods aisle of the supermarket but do not be fooled: those sultanas will reappear entirely intact out the other end. Just think re-hydrated grapes. 
  8. Follow your instincts, except when your instinct is to run naked and screaming from the house. 
  9. Once you’ve had children, you will never be able to remember a time before them – and not just because “they change your life” (etc) but also because you really won’t be able to remember. Something to do with long-term-sleep-depriv…whatever.
  10. Adjust your expectations of yourself and what you are able to achieve with small children around. A 5 minute errand without kids will be a 45 minute errand with kids. And a 25 Random Things List will become a 10 Random Things List. For example.

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