On the slippery slope

I slipped on Wednesday. I’d been doing well up till then, but I was forced to take someone to the pub, as you are, and I had a Diet Coke. It had been a long day and a long week and it was only Wednesday.

One of those weeks where you are doing stuff back to back without a break. Plus on top of that there were two parents evening. I love a good parents evening, but by good I mean one where the teachers essentially tell you stuff about your kids. The first parents evening began badly. Obviously we were slightly late and daughter three’s teacher launched into a detailed description of how SATs have changed which, even though my background is in education journalism, was very, very dry. Fractions were mentioned and semi-colons. There was nothing about daughter three’s social justice campaigns, her quest to be an archaeologist or her detailed knowledge of the works of Zoella.

It picked up when only son readied himself for his teacher’s assessment. Only son is apparently very good at independent learning, a ball of creative energy and brilliantly attentive in class even when bobbing up and down. I brought the side down a bit by mentioning the pants episode [he was on red for showing his Spiderman pants to his friend], but only son assured his teacher he had learnt from this episode and would never do it again even if his friend bigged up his Superman pants a lot.

Thursday night was GCSE Central – parents evening for daughter one. She seems to have peaked early with the GCSE anxiety – last year – and appears to have landed on some sort of serene plateau. I think she sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She assures me that the light is only a temporary thing before she enters the tunnel of sixth form followed by the vortex of university and the black hole of adulthood, but she’s got her eye on a long summer and a job where she can earn some actual money.

Secondary teachers always look slightly stressed at the best of times, but after two hours of talking to parents they appear to have lost the will to live. Usually the format for parents evening is that the teacher asks daughter one how she is doing, daughter one says something very self-effacing about having room for improvement and the teacher tells her what her target is and what she needs to do to get to it. This time round, though, daughter one seemed more relaxed and less self flagellating. She actually admitted to being bored of the Second World War to the history teacher [she’s studied it since Year 9 and, though she finds it clearly important, she would dearly love to do some other period of history now]. I know it’s not meant to be entertaining, but it was almost enjoyable.

Daughter one has enlisted the organisational skills of daughter three and she has drawn her sister up a revision chart. Dinner and relaxation breaks have been factored in. In return daughter one is going to mentor daughter three in maths after her mother completely failed to explain how to reduce fractions in any way that daughter three could actually understand. It’s all going well – maybe too well, but it seems that I am finally learning the power of delegation. This, rather than flexible working, could be the secret of work life balance and could be the thing that gets me off Diet Coke for good.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.

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