Did you hear that? That was the collective sound of millions of parents across the land who sent their kids back to school this week. I’m not sure what emotion resonates with that sound; shock, relief, freedom, pain, regret, horror? Maybe all of the above? Because I sit here with a beer I’ve poured into a mug because all the glasses are sitting in the sink waiting to be washed up. I’ll have another beer in a minute. Then maybe some gin. And the last of the Lindt bunnies that I’ve hidden under the stairs (good quality chocolate is wasted on children…) I look glamorous in Minion (yes, you read that right…) pyjama bottoms. I haven’t washed my hair in three days. And I am midweek binge drinking. That’s what the first week back to school has done to me. Fuck you first week back to school.
I hate the first week back. It’s that sharp jolt to the system to remind you that the holidays are over – you’re not on holiday time anymore. You on school run time now bitch. And so it will be for another thirteen weeks. Hahahaha. I’m not sure why I’m laughing. Maybe that’s just the delirium setting in. Here's a scientifically simplified representation of what my school run entails:
But alas, if only it were that simple because it's so much more complex and chaotic than this. Let me rundown the last four mornings for you. They've contained classic components of my typical school runs. We’ve had Arya telling me her school shoes didn’t fit anymore (thanks for that...you've only had a frigging fortnight to tell me), we’ve run out of milk, I’ve set off the smoke alarms making toast, the Hound has physically fought me over having to wear a jumper, Jon Snow has had to burrow like a badger through the mountains of laundry to locate a pair of pants, and there have been actual tears shed over who got to sit in the front seat. (My response this morning: none of you are sitting in the front! You can all go in the bloody boot if you carry on like this!)
'Your pants are in there. Go! Dig! Find me two socks of the same colour while you're at it!'
And that’s just the mornings. Mornings are a sore point for me, I just don’t do them and can barely ready myself most days.
So you want me to ready four other little people? Well then, you are just asking for comedy bedlam moments. I am recalling some of my more famous bad school runs. There are many. I may very well compile some of my greatest hits one day. I’ve had vomit, tantrums over hair gel, nits, dog poo, forgotten school trips and an actual deer once ran out in front of my car on the way to school. (Lucky for death-wish Bambi that there'd been milk in the house that day so I could have my morning coffee.) There was the school run where I forgot mufti day and Jon Snow called me the worst mother ever. Another wherein asking my children to sprint before they closed the gate, Daenerys fell. On her face.
But then that’s not the worst part of the day. Because these children get returned to you after six hours of intense mental and physical school activity. Whereas for the past two weeks, they’ve simply lounged around in onesies/ binge watched Netflix while you’ve been on Facebook, they now are thrown back into the school scene and Christ alive, they are TIRED at the end of the day. And when they’re tired, they are grumpy, feral and hangry (hungry-angry) and it takes all your might not to pick them up by the scruff of the neck and throw them into a darkened room. Hangry kids are the worst. On Monday, Arya rang her father at work in floods of tears because I said she couldn’t have any crisps. She then went upstairs, screamed several times into a pillow, got the tablet I gave her for Christmas and handed it back to me. I don’t want this anymore. I know you hate me. All this over frigging Pom Bears. Jon Snow is now getting to that age too where he eats everything in sight. He ate a whole pack of brioche the other day after school. I saw him. He looked like this. I am surprised he came up for air.
The problem is that there is no solution to the school run. It’s like your very own brand of specialised torture. Of course, I could be that mum who has everything waiting by the front door the night before. I could have nutritious, sugar-free snacks waiting for them as they pour out of school, perhaps a little laminated rota in the car to put an end to front-seat wars. But I’ve been doing this shit for four years now and I’ve just learnt that there is no quelling this chaos, you can try to pull it all together but some days will just be the pits. Things will always go awry, tears will be shed, spanners will be thrown in your works. Daenerys will have a dump just as you’re leaving the house, water bottles will leak, cars will need de-icing, books about a kid called Kipper (really??) will be forgotten. Actually something will always be left by the front door: a lunch, a glove, a permission slip, a PE kit. But then I guess the nadir would be to actually forget a child. And to my credit, I haven’t done that. Yet. I think. *runs to bedroom, counts heads.*
My school run. In a parallel universe. In my universe, my kid is whispering into my ear that they've forgotten their homework and using my cheek as a tissue.