THERE’S a sweet spot in the middle of my day that makes this staying at home lark easier.
It’s only a short period of time, just 45 minutes, maybe an hour but it’s precious and wonderful and grounding and I look forward to it every day.
It starts when I pick The Beast up from preschool at noon. We walk home slowly, hand in hand. There’s no rushing, we’ve no where to be. Unlike the rushed walk TO school in the morning there’s time here to stop to examine leaves and sticks, maybe pet the odd stray cat.
We get home whenever we get home, sometimes the journey takes ten minutes sometimes 20, there’s no hurry.
Once we’re in the door it’s coat off and school clothes changed and then he gets down to the serious business of unwinding and playing. And I get down to the serious business of sitting. Maybe blogging. Maybe tweeting. Maybe reading. Maybe nothing.
He’s content to play with his toys, telling them all about school, picking up where he left off from a game he started that morning. Sometimes he’ll ask for something on Netflix and will curl up on the couch to watch silently. He doesn’t need me. Not for that hour. He wants some space, some down time.
Everything is quiet. Everything is still. Just for that hour. More often just for that 45 minutes. But however long it lasts, it is peaceful and content.
I have a rule that I do no housework during that time. No work at all. No phonecalls, no appointments. I spend the morning that he’s in preschool doing all of that so for that precious hour, I just sit.
Sometimes we’ll play board games together. No TV, no radio, just Hungry Hungry Hippos and Crocodile Dentist on the sitting room floor, enjoying the company, enjoying the peacefulness.
Mostly though we just relax and take a breath. As much as any mother is able to, I get to switch off. Briefly.
Before it all starts up again.
He’s hungry so it’s time for lunch and our afternoon revs to life again, full colour, surround sound. Playgrounds and parks and libraries and feeding the ducks and baking and arts and crafts and playdates and flu-jab appointments and shopping and chopping and cooking and cleaning and answering questions about Iron Man. Always the questions about Iron Man.
And the sweet spot is over.
Until the next day.
THE Beast has been in preschool for two days now and I already hate that poxy school run.
Can we pause for a minute actually to discuss the phrase ‘school run’. What does it mean? Do people actually run it? Like put on their runners and their sweat pants and jog up the road, children gaily ambling beside them? It’s an odd phrase, it feels weird in my mouth.
Anyway, whatever the origin, I’ve a pain in my hoop with it already.
You belt around the house like a lunatic packing bags and persuading children to eat something, then hustle them up the road, hurrying them along as they stop to examine every single leaf and stick, wrestle them into the school then walk the same way home. And then a scant couple of hours later you drag your carcass back up that damn road again and do the whole thing in reverse? And you do that every day for, oh, the next 14 years? WHO thought that was a good idea? Surely some sort of Star Trek transporter beam would be more efficient? I’ll have worn a path in the road in the shape of my footprints in another few months.
And I’m probably the jammiest mother on the internet right now because I only have one kid to drop off and we live within walking distance to our school, it’s only up the road, so it’s at the lowest end of the ‘Kill me now, Lord’ scale.
I know another parent in a bloggers group I’m in who spends TWO HOURS in the car doing drop offs and pick ups with various children. Others have to wrangle with school buses and staggered start times, or drive to the opposite side of town in rush hour traffic. I can’t even imagine it, they deserve medals.
I remember the long commute from my own school days – up at 6.30am, on a bus by 7.30am at the latest to travel miles across the city and then often not getting home until 5pm or later depending on traffic. Every day for my whole school career and it was the bane of my existence. I had almost forgotten about it, it was so long ago, until this week when I said the words ‘Hurry now, we don’t want to be late for school’ and I started getting flashbacks.
School run angst not withstanding however, we survived the first week at school and The Beast was a little trooper. There were some tears and a small amount of anxiety, of course. This is his first time away from me and it’s such a huge adjustment but he’ll get there.
He’s already mastered the art of telling me absolutely zero about what he’s been getting up to at school though, only two days in.
Me: So how was your first day? What did you do?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: Did you do colouring?
Me: Did you play with the toys?
Me: Do you remember any of the things you did?
On the second day he came out clutching some pages he had been colouring in and his teacher told me they had done puzzles, of which there is photographic evidence, and he had played with a little boy.
Me: Look at these pictures! Did you do some colouring and some puzzles and play with a little boy?
Him: I didn’t play with any toys, I didn’t play with anyone, I didn’t do anything.
On our way out we met The Beast’s pal Little Miss who is also in his class and is a veteran of the school having been there last year, so I thought I’d ask her what they had been doing as she’s a great little chatter, always full of news.
Me: What did you kids do today?
Her: *sighing* Nothing.
So there you have it. Our first week of school is done, I already hate the school run and The Beast did absolutely nothing.