The School Run: A Slacker Mother’s monologue

(My humble tribute to the late, great Joyce Grenfell 1910-1979)

Hello William, is it really morning already?
Can you whisper, please, Scarlett is still . . . oh, now she’s awake too. Any chance you two want to go and play quietly downstairs whilst mummy lays here for another half an hour and waits for the alarm to actually go off?
Just an idea.

Right, what would you like for breakfast?
No, ice cream is not a breakfast food.
No, neither are Haribos. What about Weetabix?
You want Cocopops. How about Weetabix with a handful of Cocopops?
Because Weetabix is better for you.
It is not more disgusting than eating poo, actually.
No I haven’t ever eaten poo.
Because I just know.

If you eat your breakfast nicely, you can watch a DVD at the same time.
Yes, you can have Spiderman, William.
But you want Minnie Mouse, Scarlett. OK, how about we compromise and watch something else that you both like?
Do I take the fact you have thrown yourself onto the floor as an indication that you are rejecting that proposal?
Shall I just put the news on?
So we can agree on something then.
Are you really sure you want Mister Maker?
Both of you?
Well, you can watch it but there is zero possibility that we have time to do any craft this morning so if I let you watch it, you can’t even ask. Agreed?

What do you want in your sandwiches William?
No, not jam. You can have ham or cheese.
Yes, I know I let you have jam yesterday but that was because I hadn’t been shopping and there was nothing in the fridge.
Yes, that’s also why you had two Bourbon biscuits and a handful of Pringles. We are aiming for healthy today.
No, we can’t make a Mister Maker googly-eyed monster. We’ve already discussed that.

William, can you get dressed please?
Yes, Scarlett, I know you are a big girl and can dress yourself but trust me that putting both legs through the neckhole isn’t the best strategy.
William, your clothes are here, please can you get dressed? And if you could stop huffing at me that would help my mood quite considerably.
Scarlett, I am letting you do it. I’m just helping.
OK, you don’t want me to help. But when you garrotte yourself with your tights, you can deal with the social worker they give us.
William, if you don’t get off the sofa and start getting dressed this second, I am going to give away all the toys you have or will be given for the next ten years.
I do mean it.
Daddy will mean it too.
Yes, Scarlett, it really would be marvellous if you could put your mermaid costume over the top of your regular clothes.

What’s this in your school bag?
Homework? How did I miss this on Friday? When’s it . . . dammit, it’s due today. Right, William, I need you to draw a picture of all the fruit you’ve eaten this week, here’s the pens and paper.
I am aware I said no craft this morning but this is an emergency.
I have no idea what fruit you’ve eaten this week, which ones can you draw?
A banana and an apple would be fine. Here’s a red pen, do a strawberry as well. What about some purple grapes?
It doesn’t matter that you’ve drawn them as big as the apples, just say that they’re plums.
I know you haven’t eaten plums but they don’t know that.
I did say it was important to always tell the truth. How about I buy you some plums later and we can put the drawing in your bag now with a clear conscience?

How did it get to be 8:40? Shoes and coats. Shoes and coats. Where are your school shoes?
Well, where did you leave them?
Could you help mummy to look for them, please?
William, laying on your back and staring at the ceiling is not looking for them. Here’s one, under the sofa. The other one should be nearby.
Yes, it is entirely possible that the shoe fairy has taken the other one but it strikes me as unlikely. Here it is! Can you put them on?
No, your shoes are not stupid, you just need to undo them before putting them on your feet.
Fantastic, Scarlett, one Wellington boot and one dressing up shoe was exactly what I had in mind for you today.

Let’s get in the car.
Your teacher is absolutely right that it is better to walk to school but that would require us to be ready to leave more than two minutes before the gate closes. Don’t worry, we’ll park around the corner so that everyone will think we’ve walked.
It is kind of like fibbing, yes.

William, I’m going to let you out of the car first because I know that I can trust you to wait patiently on the pavement whilst I get Scarlett out.
William, can you get off that wall?
William, can you stop trying to rescue that dirty bird feather from the gutter?
William, don’t do that.
You’re completely correct, spoiling your fun is all I have ever wanted to do.

Let’s go. Looking where you’re going would be a real benefit right now. Stop at the kerb, please. Is there anything coming?
Then we can cross. Looking and listening.
That’s not looking and listening, that’s just shaking your head.

Scarlett, please keep up.
I know you like to do fairy steps but we’re on a tight schedule here. Can you be a fairy who takes big steps?
I’m sure they do when they’re in a rush to take their brother to school.

Here we are at last. Good morning Mrs Jones! Yes, we’re running late again!

Give mummy a kiss goodbye, William.
Get your hands out of your mouth please.
And out of your trousers.
Have a lovely day.

I’m just off to lay down in a dark room ‘til it’s time to collect you at three o’clock.


Dear Teacher . . .

I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine

I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my boy is very little
He hasn’t long turned four

In his uniform this morning
He looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure he’s ready

Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And if he falls and hurts his knee
Will someone dry his tears?

And what if no-one plays with him?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And he’s caught in between?

You’re right, I have to leave now
It’s time for him to go
I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know

Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That he’s fine now without me
I know he has to go to school
It’s just so fast, you see

It seems like just a blink ago
I first held him in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep him safe from harm

So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And he turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.