Sally McLaughlin took a 10-year break from a career in sales and has gradually built her...read more
A few months ago we went to see a film called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. On Friday I had a day which, if not quite as bad as the one in the film [the car is still in one piece] still seemed to be not quite the best end to the week. The lead-up wasn’t promising. It was daughter one’s parents evening on Thursday night. I thought we’d got there fairly early – around 5.30pm, but every other parent seemed to have got there about an hour before. The queues were long and slow. The relative glamour of parents evenings have long since worn off. I say glamour because such is the state of my life that parents evening is a high spot of my social calendar and because I am still intrigued by the mystery of secondary school. To judge from daughters one and two, all the teachers are either on the border of some sort of anger management problem [daughter one, although this was a while before she started her GCSE course] or have a psychotic desire to destroy them [daughter two]. Neither of them can come up with even one positive thing about school. Daughter two looks more pale by the day and has taken to scoring off school days on her calendar just so they go faster. She does enjoy some lessons, but they are mainly cooking, art, PE and drama. Such is modern life.
Parents evenings seem to mainly centre around “targets” and the importance of reaching them at all times. Not many teachers look that excited by this either so it is a kind of shuffle of boredom that we do around the teacher tables. Daughter one is asked “how do you think you are doing” at every turn to which she replies in the expected fashion: “Well, I think I could improve in…” There is little room for celebrating learning. It’s all about the long slog towards the hallowed A grade. Fortunately, daughter one is pretty much, as they say, “on target”. God knows what it’s like if you’re not. We are currenty awaiting daughter two’s “interim report” on her progress – basically a list of alphabetical targets she must attain or face the parents evening walk of shame. Daughter two is a creative free spirit. I’m not sure the words “interim report” are going to inspire her.
One of my targets for the evening was speaking to daughter one’s head of year about her migraines and the amount of school she has been missing, but he had a huge queue so I spoke to the pastoral manager instead. I have been having trouble getting hold of him after the latest round of poor attendance letters.
I was feeling rather tired by Friday and being tired is not the best way to tackle Fridays. My partner had to leave early on Friday morning to go for a blood test. He had spent the week in agony due to pulling something in his neck. He took daughters two and one with him to the bus stop. I had to drop off the car for its MOT. The garage is about half an hour away. I had a very tight schedule to drop it off, walk to the train station and get into London for a meeting. The traffic was bad. The MOT garage had a long queue to hand in your keys. The woman who was apparently the only person who could take the keys was talking slowly on the phone. Time passed. When I eventually got to the top of the queue I had to fill in a form and then she had to inspect the car. I legged it to the train station, noticing en route that my mobile had 9% battery because only son had been playing the Ninja Turtle song on it before school.
The chances I could warn people I was running late were small. I threw myself on a train, not totally sure that it was going in the right direction. Fortunately it was. I used my 9% battery to inform the person I was meeting that I was likely to be late. In the event, I arrived early. There was a voicemail on my phone. It was daughter one’s art teacher who is concerned about her absence levels. She said to ring with my email and she would email further details. I had enough battery to do that so I rang the school. They put me on hold while they sought the art teacher. Fortunately, she was in a rush so the talk was brief. Daughter one apparently has a lot of art to catch up. I had my meeting and got on the tube home. Halfway home I realised I had left the front door keys in the car. With my last % battery I texted my mum who lives en route and has a key. Fortunately, she was there and offered to drive me home. Hurrah for mums.
I got home and caught up on work. The MOT garage rang. The car had failed. It was going to cost a packet. One thing it failed on was the front seat not moving [possibly due to some toy trapped in the system]. It would require “an investigation” at the cost of £55 to ascertain what was causing this and then, of course, more cash to put it right. We went home. I rang daughter one’s head of year who had promised to ring, but hadn’t. Daughter three announced she had had a really bad day, but refused point blank to speak about it. Daughter one said she was not going to become a parent because it looked “too laborious”. The thought that I must try to make this all look more fun flitted through my tired brain before I passed out on top of daughter three during Eastenders, only to wake up through the night coughing. Some days just seem to feel like walking through treacle. The thing about parenthood is that you know things with kids go in phases. So does life. I’ll be bursting with energy and enthusiasm this week, just you wait. Daughter one will decide to become an Earth Mother, inspired by my calm and stress-free approach, and daughter two will turn into a limited company.