Here’s an embarrassing thing that happened to me yesterday. I went to pick Otis up from school, which is his old school but on a new site. Ned is still at the old site, so this week our mornings have been a bit ugly while I have tried to work out how to get to two different drop off points with only ten minutes between them. It means a 6am start for everyone so that we can find the shoes/locate the jumper/clean the teeth/feed the baby and throw everything into the buggy, grab the dog, and race up the A40, trying to work out which pavements have been closed off due to scaffolding so I don’t have to take too many time-consuming detours while the clock tick tocks relentlessly away, closer and closer to the gates closing and the yellow detention slips of shame being handed out.
The first day back at school this year was on Monday, which happens to have been Otis’s 6th birthday. We did the birthday things on Sunday instead – Otis chose McDonalds for lunch, we had his friends over, took them to the trampoline park and I made a typically ugly volcano cake (see below) which the children decorated with pound shop sweets and an entire jar of nutella:
On Monday morning, his actual birthday, we piled onto our bed at 6am for him to open his presents. Surrounded in discarded wrapping paper and robot snakes and small rubber things and a velcro sloth, he turned to me and said ‘I’m bored now”. This made me quite cross, understandably – it has been his MO of late (read: since he figured out the baby wasn’t going to go anywhere soon) to be rude and to do his best to push buttons (mostly mine), as well as take the opportunity to scare the baby, wake him up or poke something into his face so Remi can get just a little bit upset whenever our backs are turned. So normal, I hear you say, but also so annoying.
One of the other things Otis does is to refuse to get dressed in the morning, saying he just can’t and that he needs us to find him a shirt or tell him where his things are or to do up buttons. We help him up to a point, but don’t and won’t do everything for him. He obviously wants attention but there are a lot of people demanding my attention these days and I am a bit allergic to buying into that. I like the “ignore the bad behaviour and it might go away” school of thought, although that often looks like I am just extremely lazy, too tolerant and unfit to be parenting. THERE’S A METHOD HERE, FOLKS.
Anyway, on Monday, after he wafted about feeling sulky because his present-joy was so short-lived, he pulled all his tricks (telling me his life was bad and he wants to live somewhere else, that I should just sell him on eBay, “losing” his shoes, hiding in his bed, refusing breakfast, not putting his uniform on, etc etc etc) and I tried to ignore most of it, but when there was only a few minutes to go, I freaked out (as I am wont to do) and we left the house in a dramatic shouty panic of near-lateness. I cannot stand being late to school because I am scared of the teachers and we had this new, near-impossible double drop off which had been plaguing me for months and I may have said something like “DON’T GO PULLING THIS *SHIZZLE* AGAIN! THIS IS *VERY* RIDICULOUS AND WE DON’T HAVE ANY TIME, YOU LITTLE *RATBAGS*” although probably (absolutely) using fruitier language.
So, we got to school on time (just) but I was full of rage and sweat and all in all it wasn’t my greatest parenting day. I tried to make it up to them both by a little post-school-trip to Sainsburys for birthday kinder surprises and dinner at GBK, so it all felt resolved.
THEN TO FRIDAY….
Otis’s teacher asked if I could stay behind and have a word with her. She pulled me aside and told me that the kids in her class have a special jar where they write about anything that might be bothering them. She told me that Otis had written a little note about how his birthday was terrible because “everyone had been rude to him”. She asked him about it and he extrapolated, telling her about how it was me who was rude to him, and that I shouted and swore at him on his birthday. She looked at me with the kind, sweet, naive eyes of a young 20-something who hasn’t yet had a child nor has had to drag the buggers and a dog 30 mins up along a polluted motorway, dodging cyclists and commuters and scaffolding, all the way to one school and then backtrack to the second, where they have been handing out late slips at the congested gate as soon as the clock strikes 8:30, even if you arrived in the queue at 8:28 but couldn’t get to the narrow gate until 8:31 because of the hordes of other clueless new parents who don’t know where to go because they’ve merged with another school which we all have to go to now even though we didn’t actually want to and even though it makes our morning routine much harder than it used to be (and it has always been bad). She has yet to experience this, and so she probably was quite surprised that a mother would be a bit crabby to her small boy on his birthday. I tried to explain myself, and said yes, he was right, there was some shouting.
“And the swearing?”
Yes, I said. YES THERE MOST CERTAINLY BLOODY WELL WAS.