It’s been one of those weeks where you feel like giving up and crawling into bed with all the kids and never coming out. But the fear of social services knocking on the door after even one missed school day has driven me on. There are roadworks where I live. This is a minor annoyance for most people, but when you have to drive up the road to drop one daughter – the scarily chatty two year old – at nursery then drive back down the same stretch of road to deliver the other two girls to school and hare off in the other direction to work to get there by 9.30 it is enough to cause major apoplexy.
It’s not just that they are digging up the road in the village I live in, causing major tailbacks, but I would normally drop the two year old after school and go to work from there. However, there are also roadworks on one of the roads on the way to work hence the cunning plan to divert via a place intriguingly known as Toot Hill.
What is it with local authorities and road works? I have just moved from London where they are digging up every road very very slowly one at a time to install new water pipes and I thought I had escaped the rising blood pressure which comes with having to ferry people around to an impossibly tight schedule. But oh no. The roadworks have followed me out of London.
By the time I head to school I kind of think I’ve got through the worst in the morning after feeling guilty and letting the kids lie in till nearing 8 – because I felt guilty last night about being at work and was upstairs till 9 overcompensating with stories, made-up stories, chats about death [the 7 year old], chats about why the 4 year old has suddenly decided she wants to be called Lily and bizarre conversations with the 2 year old child genius about phonics. I have to be extra skilled at getting them all dressed, brushed, fed, shoes on, coats on in that 40-minute window I’ve allowed myself which doesn’t take into account the five minutes cleaning the milk that has spilt all over the table and the school uniform, putting the nappy back on that has been taken off again [we’re doing potty training], looking for glittery shoes to put in the school bag [don’t ask], negotiating the 4 year old out of wearing her entire pjamas under her school uniform, etc, etc.
Amazingly, I can do most of this in 20 minutes tops, but the only thing I can’t do is eat their breakfast for them and this is where I lose my calm and saintly patience most mornings – and then subsequently feel even more guilty for the rest of the day. Anyway, back to the roads. It is not enough to put on the girls’ favourite compilation tape and sing Crazy Chick at full throttle to calm the nerves.
Since I have to go to school with all three girls and carry the 2 year old as we are late and I need to run, the four year old starts complaining of “tired legs” and lies down on the pavement, refusing to move. I then have to coax her to move – getting cross would only make her cry and delay us further. We then run to school at which point I realise I forgot to put a belt on my trousers so they are falling down and my mobile containing my entire working life is in danger of dropping out of my pocket and being lost for ever.
We always make it in time, though, for which I think I should at the very least be given my very own never being late badge, an honorable mention in assembly and possibly a three-week holiday prize in the Caribbean.
I then hotfoot it to the nursery with chatty girl telling me all about why she needs a kitten and can we make a kite [when??] and from there to work, only to find the entire ****ing road around my office is closed off so I have to go on a half-hour diversion. And joy of joys I work on a timesheet so I have to leave early and lose an hour’s pay. Hurray! I then get stuck behind a tractor on the way to pick up from school and receive several calls on my mobile from work.
My brother, who has one 2 year old, rings at the weekend to say it’s much harder being at home than working. Yeah, right.