My eldest child recently started proper big school. He seems to be getting along OK, although he occasionally needs convincing that he is incredibly lucky to be given such an opportunity to learn and play with his friends 5 days a week. As a ‘disabled mum’, I have a special arrangement that sees me welcomed into the school reception area at the start and close of each day and so avoiding the lengthy outdoor seat-less wait that is endured by the other parents. At the beginning of the school year I was the only parent to be given such allowances, but as the weeks progressed I have gradually been joined by a host of others all vying for the 2 chairs available. It’s at least reassuring to know that you’re not the only young person with a stupid condition and we all seem to be getting along very well indeed, each perching on as small an area of chair as possible so that we may squeeze in together.
As you’re probably aware I also have 2 other children, aged almost 4 and almost 2. Having, as they do, THE best grandparents ever, I often manage to do the school run without having to drag them all out, but there is the odd occasion once or twice a week where I have all 3 in tow. This is my story of the school run, based specifically on my experience last Tuesday – although it is pretty illustrative of a typical school pick-up any given day.
2pm – With the school day ending in an hour I need to start getting coats and shoes on my 2 little ‘uns, bearing in mind that, although the school is only a 7 minute drive away, it can take considerable time to get 2 excitable pre-schoolers dressed and strapped in a car ready to go. I must also take into account the scrum for parking spaces, a daily battle that can leave you feeling battered and bruised mentally if not physically. I have permission to park in 1 of the 2 disabled spaces available at the school entrance but, of course, I’m not the only one needing to use them. The next option, and the one I usually have to resort to, is to park along the roadside, being careful not to block someone’s driveway and ensuring that I am close enough to be able to walk the distance there and back.
On this particular Tuesday I felt smugly organised as I got ready to leave the house. I had a stack of books to keep the kids entertained and snacks on hand to appease the most hungry of little monsters, ahem, I mean children. Sprog #2 was being particularly compliant as I handed her a sparkly fairy to hold onto. Sprog #3, however, had no intention of getting in the car and, with characteristic cheeky irreverence, off he ran in circles around the house – laughing his little curly head off and being chased by an unimpressed foot-dragging mummy. Once caught, he proceeded to wriggle and squirm while I attempted to zip up his coat and strap on his shoes. Legs filled with stress-fuelled lead, I heaved #3 out of the door and into the car. Why, oh why is it that he should choose THIS moment to fill his nappy?! Out of the car, back into the house – cue a repeat of the run-a-round game while I desperately fish around for a nappy and some wipes.
2.25pm – Kids in the car, I sit for a moment to allow my legs to recover before we finally pull out of the drive – saying together, as we leave, “Lets… go, go, go, go, goooooo!”
2.32pm – Nowhere to park.
2.36pm – Aha, a car just moved – quick manoeuvre into a space across the street and a little way down the road from the school. I unstrap #2 and she clambers into the front leaving #3 to scream and whinge and fight against his seatbelt until I set him free and plonk him on my lap – HOOOOOOOONNNNNKKKKKK, goes the hooter, SWISH, go the wipers, ON go the lights. Right, let’s read a book…
2.55pm – time to head into the school. I drag a reluctant child in one hand and an even more reluctant toddler in the other and we make it across the road and past the line of chilly parents and grandparents and into reception. Finding a corner of a seat I flake out before having to leap up again seconds later because #3 has made a run for the out-of-bounds school hall (on previous occasions he has wandered into the headteacher’s office…) After a couple of laps around the circular hall I manage to grab hold of his hood and drag him back into the reception area where he spots the school library – books go flying as he whizzes around having a whale of a time, by this point I am too fatigued to even attempt to keep up with him and I look longingly at the corner of the seat that I had to vacate moments before.
3.01pm – Sprog #1 emerges with a big grin on his face and proceeds to dump his hat, scarf, gloves, coat, lunchbox and bookbag into my arms as he heads for the exit asking, “Have you got me anything to eat?” Juggling and struggling, I try to distribute the bags and clothes between #’s 1&2 so that I have room in my arms for squiggly, wiggly child #3, who proudly shows off his belly button as I wrestle with his armpits in an effort to keep hold of him. Screaming like the calm and serene mother I am, I warn my children not to cross the street and somehow manage to catch up with them, #3 now dangling upside down in my arms. We make it to the car, I strap them in with my jellified legs crossed in an attempt to stop my stress-sensitive bladder from letting me down. Kids in, seatbelts on – Whew!
“Let’s… go, go, go, go, goooooo!”
NOTE TO MY PARENTS: This is in no way a plea for more help…