Sunday, 7 February 2010

...sundays, rugby,

I don't know what it is about Sundays but I'd always thought they were thought they were meant to be a day of rest....somehow I find myself waking up each sunday morning thinking "let the battle commence!"

Despite the fact that BH takes the boys off to play rugby (and indulge in all things manly like a beer or two in the clubhouse) which leaves me with a potential 3 hours to indulge myself with Mimi in all things girly, it really doesn't seem to happen. Poor Mimi is stuck at the kitchen table with her pencils, with mummy cajoling "Draw mummy a nice picture of a dog!", whilst chucking van loads of washing into the machine, simulatanously emptying the dishwasher and writing the shopping list.

Miriam (the au pair), won't surface until 2, but I think if I make enough noise she might appear and offer to take Mimi to the park. I know she won't, because she never does, but I can live in hope! Then it's off to the supermarket, to buy the items needed for the school lunches, for the evening dinner, the special items that Miriam likes to make her feel at home (lots of bread, ice cream and oven chips!) and the dog food. Mimi will invariably try to make me buy her a toy ("Buy me present, lovely mummy!" How can I resist?), and will run around the aisles so that I begin to panic when she disappears out of sight for a second then chase after her, missing vital items on the list, arrive home, exhausted, empty washing machine, put on more washing, wash up the cups and plates Miriam has left in the sink (still doesn't understand the concept of the dishwasher!).

BH arrives home with Bart and Finn. Brunch on, feed, wash up, (dishwasher still full) wash boys, wash kit, wash floor (mud clumps everywhere), start dinner, feed, wash up (dishwasher still full), wash Mimi, get uniform ready, do homework, write notes, sort out lunch money, sort out bags....actually I lie...this all gets done in a rush on Monday morning, as I scramble around finding socks that might match (Miriam still in bed!), dig down the side of the sofa to see if any change has fallen out of BH's trousers! I generally fall into bed about 12...knowing that my feet hadn't touched the ground all day....and roll on Monday...some peace!

I'm not feeling sorry for myself, because I know it happens the world over...if you're not throwing some kind of kit into the machine then you're not a mother of boys..unless you've taught them to do it themselves...which isn't a bad idea! Mind you, if I left it up to BH then I'm pretty sure the white collars of those shirts would quickly become a nice shade of pink or a fetching shade of grey!! Me? I'm not superwoman, but Marion is. Her whites are whiter than white, her flower arrangements perfection, her food...well...amazing. Going to Dinner at Marions, is like going "out"!! The table is laid beautifully, she won't let you leave the table to help, the food, like I said, devine. If you need to know anything about anything, then Marion is your lady.

"Marion, " I asked (as we were walking the dogs one morning...only Jude doesn't have one, so she doesn't belong to this club...she said she's getting one as she feels left out...and we probably talk about her!) "Marion, how do you get your white so white?" I felt like I was repeating that immortal line from the TV advert...but how else can you re-phrase it?

"Darling, " she trilled " Daz and colour catchers! You can't go wrong!"

Well, she's right...although the powder has changed in properties, the colour catchers have saved me an absolute fortune, particularly now as BH no longer has to buy replacements for his offpink office attire.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

How it began....

Most women make and keep their friends from an early age, or they meet them when they first start work. I made my friends when my children began school and despite the varying age gaps it works well for us. That’s not to say that I don’t keep in touch with my “old” friends, but at the moment I have more in common with this particular group of women. Our ages range from 35 through to 55, but that doesn’t seem to matter now that we have got to know each other better.
It all began with the School Quiz night.
I remember BH, (Better half), voicing his opinion that he wasn’t particularly interested in meeting new people as he had enough friends to keep up with and this group would only add to the list…and he didn’t like the look of “those women”…they scared him! Did he have to go? I said that I had no intention in going by myself, and anyway we’d be back by 10pm, plus he didn’t have to take me out that week as this counted towards our “social life”.
I must admit, that I was fairly nervous. I had only spoken occasionally to these women and it was Victoria who had arranged the table.
“We need to make up a table from our class for the quiz night…shall I put you and your husband down? ” she’d asked
“Um, I’m not sure..can I let you know?”
“Well, they’re filling up pretty quickly, and I’d hate you to miss out. It’s a fun evening…we’re having cheese and wine!”
Well, I couldn’t say no to an evening out away from the kids…so I agreed.

"Not worry Mrs M" trilled Miriam, (our au-pair) "I look after all babies..you dress up pretty..you have many wine, and get slayed!"

"I don't think so Miriam. It's only a quiz night. We'll be back by 10...I'm sure I'm going to be pretty bored anyway" I'm still not sure what she meant by "slayed"??
Anyway to cut a very long story short...we didn't get home 'til 3 am, we got accused of cheating (we were!) , won the quiz, I got pissed (only because I was so nervous), so did all the others, laughed too loud, embarrassed myself in front of the headmaster.......with the overhead lights on full....and met four like-minded souls!
The next morning (more like afternoon), I crawled out of my pit and held my head in shame.
"I must phone to apologise for my outrageous behaviour!" I cried to BH.
"What for?" he laughed "You were all as bad as each other. Jude tried to dance on the table, but kept falling off. Stella kept telling her to take her shoes off as she'd be more likely to stay upright. Victoria wanted to take her clothes off, and you were encouraging her. Marion, well, she fell asleep straight after she tried to set fire to the flower arrangements. Tom, couldn't get her to wake up so had to hoist her over his shoulder.....then he dropped her! We all had to take an arm and a leg each and carry her to her car.....not a dignified exit I'm afraid"
"Oh my god" I wept "What must everyone think?"
Monday morning came and I armed myself with the kids and head down, marched into the school. Halfway through the gates, I heard my name called....Jude clutching her youngest ran over..
."OMG, I'm so sorry...I feel such a fool. What must you think?"

Two seconds later, we were joined by Stella and Victoria.

"Hello ladies! That was a good night! I've not had so much fun in ages...gotta do it again!"

Marion bustled over . "Helloooo. Thank your men for helping out the other night...now... what's next on the social calender? Anyone fancy coming over to us this weekend?"
...and that was how it began...

Introducing.......

…me, of course, then there’s Jude, Stella, Marion and Victoria. We all met at the school gates several years ago, when my eldest first started at the school. Stella, Marion and Victoria already had older children there but we all had our boys in the same class. Only Jude, had another young one about to start, whilst I had another 2 waiting in the wings to join their older brother.

Weeks and months went by before we actually introduced ourselves to each other, and although the boys all played together (and fought together), I could see the other parents speculatively glancing and , sizing each other up at pick up time…is that person suitable to be my friend? Is that lady with the 15 children interested in becoming my friend? Is that a grandmother or a mother picking up? All these thoughts certainly went through my head and although I’m fairly outgoing faced with prospect of 20 very different people, all who may not even like the look of me was incredibly daunting. It didn’t help when Bart (my eldest) said to me in a fit of temper as we were leaving the playground “Nobody likes you! All my friends hate you! Even their mothers hate you…I see them staring at you!”

…..but it was the social event that threw us into our new world of friendships, where we realised that , although we were very different, each of us had something to bring to the table.

Next time….Our first social event!

That's me...

What is it about the gates of a school that sends every mother back to their own school days?

I remember being dropped off at the school gates with my mother watching me and my three brothers as we scurried into school with the hundreds of others who had the privilege of walking the short distance from their homes. Mum never walked through thoses gates unless it was to attend a parents evening. Infact it was rare to see a parent on the school premises unless someone set fire to the back of the bike sheds with their illicit smoking! My mum never got to know the other parents of my school friends, unless we were invited for an overnighter, however that was a rare occurance as many never invited me as the recipricol agreement meant them staying with us…..three younger brothers and a sister meant no privacy!

Now, standing here watching and waiting for my own off-spring as they leave to start their day at school, I wonder how they will see their past school days. Will they look at the time I spend taking them to and from school as an important time. I know I savour the time spent with the other mothers, mainly for a gossip and to find out what is really going on within the school.

The social side of the school is also an advantage for the opportunity to make new friends. Parents seem to make more of an effort to be a part of the school, (although, I’m sure the teachers are not best pleased about the interference), raising money, organising fetes, sales, etc. The parent’s association within my school is “all-powerful” and a little bit intimidating.

As my children are so young, I’m not sure I have the time to involve myself in the politics of the school, but I’m sure I’m going to have fun!

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