Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mum Flu and Other Matters

The past few weeks have been a sweaty blur of plate spinning - trying to keep on top of everything with very little assistance - and I guess it was no wonder that the blogging plate fell to the ground and smashed into very small pieces. I wasn't sure I was going to be back. I didn't check my blog, didn't read other blogs, basically avoided my computer like the plague for over 2 weeks and had almost reached the point where I just couldn't face getting back into the fray again.

I feel my blog is just one more area of my life that I just don't do very well.

I have the best of intentions but can't compete with the general brilliance that surrounds me and it is beginning to feel like it is just one more thing to add to the list of things that I am generally failing at. Marriage. Motherhood. Career. Friendship. Fitness. Cooking. Being on top of things. Money management. Having the foggiest idea of how I am going to move continents in 8 months time. Hand me the duvet will you someone? I need to pull it back over my head so I can carry on pretending that none of this stuff bothers me.

It hasn't helped matters that either one of the boys or I have been sick every single day for the past 3 weeks. Half term was a wipe out, due to the boys being ill. Being the generous little souls that they are, they very kindly passed on their virulent germs to me and I have been fighting a horrendous cold ever since. Of course, I call it a cold, because I am a mother. And a single mother. I am not sure if a cold typically involves 2-3 days of a raging fever accompanied by 5 nights of night sweats plus heavy, aching limbs which feel as if someone had attacked them brutally with a sledgehammer. But I really didn't have the time, or luxury of anyone to help me out, to have the flu, so I classified it as a cold and simply tried to get from one end of the day to the next with the assistance of copious amounts of Ibuprofen.

With the boys being back at school it would make sense to assume that I would have plenty of time to convalesce and just concentrate on getting better. But no. Is it just me? Am I the only parent who feels that sometimes I spend far more time at the school and doing bloody homework than my offspring? I am Parent Representative for Johnny Drama's class and that involves 'encouraging community' among the parents (most of whom are new to the school) as well as assisting the teacher with administrative duties. I am basically an unpaid lackey in yet another area of my life. Oh well. If the shoe fits... So I have been up to my ears in coordinating parents to participate in the weekly Mystery Reader and IPC lessons, which has been no mean feat because it appears that most of the parents actually have a life and it really isn't practical for them to just be shoehorned into any old opening on the schedule that I throw at them.

Finally the schedules are coordinated, after multiple circulations and several diplomatic emails to parents who, in my mind, couldn't list tact as one of their personality 'gifts' (although 'blunt' and 'obnoxious' would most certainly feature near the top of the list). Then there was the coffee morning to cobble together, followed by the parent's social evening where we all got to know each other a little better through the social power of alcohol. It all went off without a hitch but from my point of view the timing couldn't have been worse because the only relationship I am interested in truly cultivating at this point in time is with the fucking sleep fairy and my Tempur-Pedic pillow.

Alongside this Johnny Drama needed to create a poster on bears and make a bear costume for the teddy bear picnic and Captain Underpants had to compile a work of art for International Dressing Up Day and then come to school dressed in 'national costume'. Having had sludge for brain for over a week, and the natural handicraft abilities of your average slug in general, I tossed and turned for many a sweat-ridden night over the 'national costume' dilemna. What on earth does that mean for the UK? Do we have a national costume? Not having any Morris Dancer tassels, sticks or bells to hand, or bowler hats, braces and black umbrellas or even a fake Bobby tit helmet, I was at a bit of a loss. A knight was a possibility but I couldn't face the exertion of fashioning shields and swords from cereal boxes and tin foil. We didn't have an English football strip in the house. Eventually I managed to rummage through cupboards and unearth a rather majestic blue velvet 'crown' finished with fake ermine and add a back-to-front super hero cape to make, what I like to believe, was a rather convincing King outfit. Captain Underpants was impressed anyway and that's what counts the most.

To top it all off - and as if I didn't have enough on my plate - as well as being Mystery Reader for both boy's classes that week and attending a Literacy Insight lesson which took the best part of yet another day, I also volunteered to conduct an hour's lesson for International Day. I roped in my new best pal, Subversive Mum, and we opted to do a lesson on Scotland. Why Scotland is really anyone's guess, although I have a very tenuous link due to the fact that my dad plays the bagpipes and I thought we could regale the class with some bagpipe music, teach them some Scottish lingo and maybe finish off by practising a Highland Fling while eating shortbread. All very cultural and fitting for the theme of the day. Only one of the other parents had already nabbed Scotland (even though she is an authentic Scot I felt a bit miffed that she had pipped us to the post). So in my medicated state (not sure what Subversive Mum's excuse was) we opted to ignore the brief altogether and conduct a session on general dressing up instead.

We consciously met to develop a lesson plan that we were sure would blow their little ankle socks off. It involved lots of dressing up in strictly non-cultural costumes, playing a game involving giving the kids a true sugar high just before home time by having a relay race dressing in oversized clothes and then eating Cadbury's chocolate with a knife and fork, watching the first ever episode of Mr Benn and reading The Smartest Giant in Town and the Charlie and Lola oracle on dressing up But I Am An Alligator. I borrowed some dressing up clothes from my babysitter (as fancy dress is a category that doesn't particularly feature in my adult wardrobe) and we were set.

My friend and I were pretty pleased with ourselves for being so imaginative and got ready with much enthusiasm for our lesson slot in the afternoon. And it was only when we were sitting in the school reception, in our finest fancy dress, surrounded by a crowd of other 'sensible' parents wielding various cultural activities, that it occurred to us that maybe we had gone a little far off the brief.

What had we been thinking? The other parents stared at us in open amusement, as though in the company of a couple of women fresh from lobotomy surgery. There was no doubt about it. We looked like a couple of prize prawns. To add to the air of parental respectability, we both collapsed into a heap of near-knicker-wetting giggles like a couple of naughty schoolgirls who'd just whispered 'cock/fanny/blowjob' under our breath while in assembly. This attitude of general silliness continued as we leapt and pranced about in front of 20 somewhat bemused 5 and 6 year olds for 60 minutes, clearly entertaining each other more than them - and certainly more than the teacher and learning assistant.

Later that night the teacher emailed a note thanking all the parents who had participated and featuring a photo from each of the parents sessions. The first 8 photos all depicted sensible and respectable mums and dads educating the class on various cultural aspects of a chosen nationality.

And then there was this:

Luckily for us, the photo actually captured us during the 7 or so seconds at the start of the class where we were actually standing still and before we started lampooning around the room like a superhero and manic bride/princess on amphetamines. These were also the most professional of all the costumes featured during the lesson - most of the others definitely required a 5 year old imagination to make any sense of whatsoever.

And I am sure that our session did pass on an important life lesson that day. Academically we did pass on the knowledge that some parents aren't actually any more mature than their children. After all, being a grown up doesn't naturally dictate that you are destined to mature beyond your original childhood state, as we very clearly demonstrated.

And once a Drama Queen, always a Drama Queen.

Now, where is my long lost tiara?


  1. What a great post. I love the picture. This cracked me up so much...

  2. Oy. You have a LOT on your plate. I think you're allowed to give yourself a break, for a lot of reasons.

    And the costumes are are you!!!

  3. Well, if you're going to do a thing you might as well do it properly and it looks as you most certainly did! (And something tells me that YOURS is the lesson the children will remember...)

  4. You're doing brilliantly, and the costumes are fabulous. And your blog is excellent - it's always lively and amusing. You can definitely be proud of it.

  5. well for a start, I have to disagree.
    You are NOT failing at motherhood or friendship (I should know!) or fitness or cooking (again, I should know), as for the other 2, well no-one is perfect, although you come pretty close.
    Love you lots gorjous!

  6. I like the idea of wearing a woolly sweater under a princess/bride dress. Perfect for the coming Chicago weather.

  7. Superman and the Bride. Which is truly Scottish. Obviously.

    I'm sure the kids had a fabulous time, and learnt that learning can be fun, which is a lesson most schooling is designed to beat out of them.