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In the early days of secondary school I used to get a little thrill every time a Parentmail popped into my inbox. It was never about anything remotely interesting, but, given that it is virtually the only chink you get into the 70% of your child’s life that they spend at school [bar when they sleep], it is like being given a key to a forbidden garden. The possibility that it would include something exciting like an 800-word paeon to daughter one’s loveliness was always there.
As the years have worn on, I have become almost blase about Parentmail’s constant entreaties to go to theatre events and sporting events that daughter one is not in. So it was perhaps no surprise that when a Parentmail came through in mid-September during a very busy period at work I didn’t read it entirely thoroughly. All that caught my eye was that it involved a consent form. Our printer doesn’t work as someone [I think it may have been me, although I have yet to fess up] has put a load of books on top of it so I forwarded it to my partner and instantly forgot it. As did he. Uh oh. It was apparently about a geography field trip and included mention of £7.50 to pay through another mystical secondary school portal called Parentpay.
So it came to pass that on Thursday evening, the day before the field trip, daughter one arrived home slightly peeved, saying she was not going because her parents [me essentially] had failed to fill in the correct form. She was condemned therefore to do someone else’s timetable, including German which she doesn’t actually take. I rang the school to explain the mistake, but it was too late and apparently parents had been ringing all day with similar queries so maybe the school should have sent a reminder. Parents are, after all, busy people and one small email can so easily go missing, particularly if you have four children and the primary school has just sent a note saying it is converting to Parentmail. T
here was no chance of resolving the issue so I tried to present the missed trip in a positive light. I researched the weather forecast. Rain was predicted for the entire day. A field trip to investigate coastal erosion might not be quite as much fun as it might seem, I suggested. Perhaps not much information about coastal erosion would be taken in by shivering teenagers. Daughter one remained unconvinced and started wailing about the fact that there was an assessment on coastal erosion the following week which she would undoubtedly fail.
So disconsolate was she that she retired to bed, the stress having brought on a migraine. In the middle of this toddler boy had a poo incident which slightly distracted me. He has yet to learn how to pre-empt poos. I have tried putting him on the potty at times when I think he might poo, holding his hands and making my best pushing face [the one I reserve for childbirth]. He makes a pushing face back, but I fear this does not extend to his lower regions and nothing emerges. He seems to think he has no role to play in the whole process. He sees pooing as like being annointed by the gods. It just happens. I have taken to explaining to him the whole digestive process, but he looks a bit blank as soon as I get to peristalsis.
Anyway, back to geography. Daughter one woke up the next day hoping I would give her a day off so she could be ahead of the game for the weekend [she presented this as a benefit for me, rather than her]. When informed this line of argument was not working, she humphed off to school, telling me it was all my fault. Not the school, not my partner, just me. I fear this is the start of me being blamed for everything that goes wrong in her life. I suggested that we go on a geography field trip of our own at the weekend to explore coastal erosion for ourselves. I could even feel myself becoming slightly fascinated by coastal erosion. I tried to enlist daughter three who is always up for research trips. Even she was not convinced. Meanwhile, daughter one met my suggestion with a glower. I will never again let a Parentmail pass me by.