I’m sorry the children were late on the last day of term this week.
Keith has been away for a fortnight and life as a solo mum-of-three has gone swimmingly. At least, until the last couple of days.
I think the crumble began at rugby practice, which requires the mothers to stand at the side of a wintry field at dinner time, while siblings get increasingly cold and angry. I started checking the time frequently at about twenty past five, waiting for the five-thirty end of training when I can pack the kids in the car and spend the next twenty minutes refereeing fights in the backseat ( a recent battle between my three and six year olds was over who was which number on the digital clock. ‘I’m the nine! No! Daddy is the nine and you are the five!” etc. It is like being in an absurdist improv session.)
However, at the end of training is where the dad-coaches start having a little fun. They chuck the ball to each other while the under sevens run wildly back and forth. The dad coaches are dad-coaching beuase they love rugby, so this bit at the end is their favourite bit. It’s hard for them to stop, even when the clock is ticking past five thirty.
They don’t care that the siblings are getting crazy-eyed and hangry. They aren’t mentally recalibrating when to put the dinner on while carting a dead-weight three year old because the grass is too wet to sit on. Nope, they are chucking a ball around and having a whale of a time.
Suddenly the ball came soaring into our little pack of mums and collected a poor women fair and square on the side of the head. She was of course kind and brushed it off even thought, clearly, it had actually hurt her.
‘Sorry!’ laughed the dads, and on they continued with their dad-antics (dantics?)
I checked the time again and thought how long it would take to get the spag bol on. I bent over to get the bags together and ‘Ball! Ball!” shouted the dads. They’d kicked another ball at us and this one was headed for me. I stood up and my real feelings burst out of me. The F word burst from me. Not loudly. But not softly either. The dads were laughing weakly. ’Once is an accident!’ I said loudly. ‘Twice is…not an accident!” (It was not my strongest comeback.)
I called the children to me and stalked off the field.
Eventually we made it home, Office, through dinner, through a chapter of Harry Potter out loud, through teeth and baths and reading-apples and all the shenanigans that accompany bedtime. Mum was over to help me. Keith’s plane was arriving first thing in the morning and we had to leave for the airport pick-up at 6am.
At eight I got my period, which kind of explained my inability to keep my feelings on the inside on the rugby field.
By ten-thirty Mum and I had finished the washing-up and making breakfast packs for the car and laying out clothes for the morning. We tootled off to my bed to read magazines together and talk about Masterchef.
All was well until little Pudding started barking. The unmistakable bark of croup. We went next door and checked on her. She was sitting up, hot and coughing, and rubbing angrily at her ear. She’d been complaining about that ear for a couple of days – it turned out there was a tick behind it. So Mum and I held her head down while I pulled the tick out, which was as fun for everybody as it sounds.
We tucked her into the big bed and then followed one of those hours with sick kids. Those google-doctor, what-to-do, is-she-worse/better hours, where you debate whether or not to go to the hospital. She’s breathing pretty funny, but that’s just croup. Going to the A and E at midnight for hours is a pretty good way for her to get sicker.
Unless she’s having an allergic reaction to the tick and her throat is swelling shut.
Fun times, Office!
After an hour or so she settled right down and we all went to sleep. I got the T-Bones bed ready for Mum (she has a chronic lung condition and being breathed on by a sick child is a bad idea for her). Of course when I moved T out he’d pissed the bed with the urinary force of a thousand stallions and I had to change it all.
Then the alarm didn’t go off. I probably set it wrong with my tired, anxious, menstrual-anger fuelled fingertips. S when we did wake up we were forty five minutes late for the plane. Luckily, it was delayed anyway. As was the children’s arrival at school.
My apologies again Office.
Rachael Mogan McIntosh