Do as you do.

Dear Little Princess Pink, treatment

It’s not often I’m short of something to say, sovaldi sale but I am struggling to find the words that properly describe the immense pride I feel this afternoon after your second parent conference since starting at big school. This time I wasn’t fazed at all by the little green chair I sat in opposite your teacher, in fact I rather liked it. Daddy couldn’t make it this time so I had my listening ears on good and proper to ensure I could tell him every little detail of how wonderfully you have settled into school and taken to your class work like a duck to water.

Miss K can’t sing your praises highly enough, which is music to our ears. She shared with me your ‘weekly news journal’ where you get to put your emergent writing skills into practice. She was suitably impressed with the piece you wrote about the weekend we were toilet training your brother, particularly the part where you specified that he did 3 pee pees but no poos and mummy said he may get consternation. She liked that piece so much she asked you to take it to the deputy head Mrs S to let her read it too. I feel the whole school has now celebrated our family toilet training successes with us. I was a little concerned however when I read the piece you wrote about Daddy buying you the Kate Perry SeeDee, but then relieved that you didn’t mention that it has a naughty word in it which mummy says you’ve not to repeat again.

I’m delighted to hear you remain polite, well mannered and hard working and I just know from the mucky state your shoes come home in every night that you also play hard.

Your love of reading and your ability in literacy continues to knock our socks off. We’ll finish The Magic Faraway Tree in no time. The support you have both at school and from Daddy and I will ensure you grow in any which way you please my darling.

Continue to do as you do little one, you are our greatest blessing and every day is enhanced by your wit, your five year old wisdom and your enthusiasm for life.

We’re behind you every step of the way, you are doing us all proud.

Love Mummy xxx


Being there

I have just successfully managed to get my boss to agree to me reducing my hours at work.  Obviously I am talking about my ‘proper’ work, sildenafil i.e. the place I go to where I do grown up things like present papers to Executive Steering Groups, engage stakeholders to work collaboratively towards critical deliverables, develop project plans and change the date on my weekly programme status reports. Not the one where I wipe snotty noses, build Hello Kitty jigsaws puzzles with my eyes closed  and iron what feels like the contents of the entire children’s clothes section in M&S on a weekly basis.  As at today, that work still remains unpaid in hard cash terms.

No, this turnaround from ‘Throw it all at me, I can do it!’ to ‘Perhaps I need to redress the balance just a little,’ coincided with Little Princess Pinks’ first week at school. Up until then, much in the way of advice on the matter of mummy working / children schooling had been extremely conflicting, from the ‘it gets so much easier to do it all when they are at school’ to the ‘trying to get everything done, especially when you need to factor in homework now, is just so difficult’.  I decided (in the stubborn way that I often do) that I would make it work.  After all, I’m *ahem* supermummy.

I’d never entered the unknown territory that was the After School Club until I decided that my working pattern would remain as was, and we would quite simply have to make use of said club as a means of childcare for LPP from a Monday to Thursday.  Decision made, but still battling with this voice in my head which would occasionally bellow in my ear – ‘Are you really sure?,’ we set about registering, booking and arranging all childcare requirements from school bell at 3.10 to which-ever-one- of- us-could- get- there- first (but somewhere in the region of 5pm) at the After School Club.  From day one, it niggled and niggled at me.  It just wasn’t part of the master plan.  I have very clear memories of my mum picking me up from school, taking me to the library where I would choose six books (yes, even back then I was a read-y / write-y book geek) and off we’d trot home for milk, biscuits and homework at the kitchen table.  I remember the hours mum spent with me, reading, drawing and answering countless ‘but why’ questions, and so along with primary teachers 1 – 7 and the entire cast of St. Kentigerns Academy, she is to be credited with me turning out fairly okay.

But, we ploughed along regardless.  After School Club it was.  Until day one when I arrived to pick LPP up after her first full day at school and after school club only to find her in floods of tears (despite being dressed up as Snow White which is usually a smile-inducing activity in our house.) I had to fight with myself not to stuff the cheque I’d just written to pay for the month hurriedly back into my handbag, whisk her away in a stealth like manner, yelling ‘Thanks, it’s been lovely, but we won’t be back any time soon’ over my shoulder as we made haste for the door.

Now, I know day one will always be the tough one, and the most logical part of my being says the same as everyone else is thinking – I know she’ll settle and I know it will all come good.  But I couldn’t argue with the part inside me that said, ‘You know what you need to do.’  I should have gone with my gut in the first place.  After a week of number crunching, case building, looking where we could cut the cloth accordingly, putting forward a request to my boss, seeing LPP settle more and more into the After School Club (well, it was always going to happen wasn’t it?) we got to the point this week where it was a done deal.  I’ll be an even parter-part-timer in the workplace and hopefully a there-when-I-really should be mummy.  Conversation with boss and bosses boss was very much in the realms of ‘don’t for one minute think I’m any less committed, because I’m not.’ And truly, I’m not.  In fact I already anticipate that I’ll put in more than I’m contracted to, as it’s an unwritten and unspoken rule that part-timers need to prove their worth, part-timers need to show just how productive they can still be, no slippage of quality, no dumbing down of the old grey matter.  Still on the career ladder, perhaps just teetering on the edge as opposed to two feet firmly on the rung, but still there and hanging on.

So here we are, from next week, I’ll be picking LPP up from school, and after school club will become a great option for us when I just have to be in the office late in the afternoon, or when school holidays come around and between us we still don’t have a enough annual leave entitlement to cover all the days needed.  Little Princess Pink has already expressed some disgust at the new arrangement in the form of “BUT I LOVE THE DINO CLUB – THEY HAVE PICTUREKA!” however, shes coming round.  I’m not sure if it was the grand plans for French on a Tuesday or swimming lessons on a Wednesday that did it, or perhaps it was the promise of Tuesdays being solely restricted to library visits and milk, biscuits and homework at the kitchen table.

One day, I hope she too will reflect fondly on it, knowing that us mummies only ever try to do our best by them.

Run Mummy, run.

I’ve heard lots about this ‘school run’, price mind and given Little Princess Pink has now donned her very cute uniform and commenced her classes as a primary one, site I think I need to pay more attention. I’m assuming said school run is the dropping off and collection of small children at their schooling establishment and not anything to do with actual, proper running? I think I would struggle with that given my relationship with my trainers has soured again (not that it ever really got properly off the ground last time, fickle as they are.) I imagine also that running would involve much flapping and flailing of school bags and lunchboxes, would jiggle my blackberry too much and would result in sweaty pits under my suit jacket.

The dropping off and collecting part sounds straight forward, providing I can find a parking space amidst the hoardes of cars belonging to others also participating in the school run.  I’m well aware of the irony in there – school run; car; school run; car. Believe me, if we lived close enough and didn’t have Little Monster Blue to drop off at nursery a whole 7.2 miles away in the opposite direction, then an 8 mile trip along the bustling M8 to the office all before 9am, then I would be quite happy to walk the school run (still not running.) I hear the warnings from government officials loud and clear about the increase of traffic on the roads at peak hours as parents a plenty chose a petrol powered method of getting the kids to school over using shanks’ pony (using ones legs as a means of transport, not surprisingly, this expression is believed to be Scottish in origin.)

What is less straight-forward to me, and the part I’m struggling to get my head around on the whole concept of the school run is the etiquette and dare I say, the rules.

According to one source, a mummy should apply a slick of lip gloss prior to the school run, so she looks ‘together.’ That I can do, though more often than not find the attraction between lip gloss and my hair somewhat limiting in the looking together stakes. Caitlin Moran, whom I adore for her frankness and honesty on the issue of why women should / shouldn’t have children, claims in her latest book that “in the real world, women who always blow dry their hair before leaving the house are freaks, and any mother at the school gates with a glossy bob is the subject of pitying looks from other mothers who can’t believe she wasted 20 minutes and lots of upper arm strength for any event less momentous than announcing her engagement to Kiefer Sutherland at Cannes”.

Therein lies the first dilemma.  Am I to undertake the school run with limited grooming and attention to personal hygiene at the risk of embarrassing daughter, myself and anyone associated with me in order that I don’t become the recipient of helpful suggestions levied in my direction as to how best spend an additional 20 minutes in the morning at the expense of my coiffed barnet? There is also the small matter of adhering to the company dress code when I do actually make it in to the office, and ensuring a professional frontage when I get there.  Lip gloss and freshly washed and blow dry hair are a necessary requirement for this. I’m not quite sure if I fully understand the spectrum of acceptable glamour on the school run.  Is it appropriate perhaps to sit somewhere between unkempt, bed head, perhaps partially hidden by an anorak hood, and the just-stepped-out-of- a-salon look and opt for simply taking a brush through yesterdays freshly washed do? Is it okay to wear the suit that I plan to wear to work, or is that deemed too ‘sharp’ for the school run? Should I veer towards smart skirt and blouse and casual knee high boots with a hell of less than 3 inches? Is a hoodie and pyjama bottoms with dried on Weetabix a step too far in the other direction?  Frankly, if day one school drop off was anything to go by, it makes absolutely no odds what I wear or how I style my hair as I’ll forever be known as the one with the mascara running down my cheeks (serves me right for applying make-up before leaving the house) and snot dripping from my nose as I weep and wail goodbye to my princess.

Which brings me to saying goodbye at the school gate. Is hugging, kissing and calling ‘I love you bear’ after the blonde bouncy plaited head of my girl disappearing into the classroom permitted?  Or will I be mocked for my public display of affection, notwithstanding that it is to my five year old? Should I remain resolutely stoic and unmoving for fear of being regarded as uncool and clingy otherwise, or will this render me the nickname ‘The Ice Mum’?

Should I, and will I, make friends with the other mums on the run?  I’m a newbie, LPP coming from a different nursery to the school feeder nursery, does this therefore mean I will be freely welcomed into the fold and invited to join in with morning gossiping, or will I have to watch on from the sidelines, nervously twirling my hair and wondering how I can strike up a conversation that doesn’t make me look like I’m desperate for a school gate friend nor cross the boundaries of acceptable morning school gate chat (unfamiliar with that as I am.) What topics are suitable for a gaggle of mums who huddle together for 10 minutes at the start of the day and 10 minutes mid afternoon 5 days a week?  I’m assuming with small children in earshot, swearing is not permitted, nor is the ‘Snog, Shag or Marry’ game about the hot male teacher who takes primary 6, the middle aged music  teacher (female, though with a wispy beard) and the school janitor?

Being last to arrive for drop off, just as the school bell is ringing loudly.  I’m assuming this is downright unacceptable, but unfortunately has to befall one of the school run mums (or dads). If it was me puffing and panting as I sprint down the path, arms overflowing with school bag, lunch box the jacket that we didn’t quite manage to get on (despite the rain) and a hairbrush and bobbles for last minute plaiting in an attempt at neatness, would this behaviour be frowned upon?  Could I successfully argue that I couldn’t find a parking space that wasn’t a) on a zebra crossing, b) across someone’s driveway, or c) long enough and wide enough to fit my SUV?  Okay, so I don’t have an SUV, but if we’re stereotyping here…..Perhaps I would be scorned for spending too long with the hairdryer and maybe glean some helpful pointers on the right things I should be spending my time on between the hours of 6am and 8am.

And, what I wonder, is the etiquette as far as breakfast on the go is concerned? Are coco pops bars allowed to be consumed whilst small child runs frantically at double speed to keep up with mum or dad as they power walk briskly up the path to avoid being the last one to arrive?  I suspect this could also be avoided if hair drying is forgone in favour of rustling up a suitably nutritious and nourishing Eggs Benedict or kedgeree for the nippers prior to departing for school.  Surely it’s better that any breakfast which must be dispensed literally on the run is witnessed by the other mums in those scenarios where it just hasn’t happened at home that morning for fear of perhaps the teacher asking to see me after class to discuss the constant tummy rumbling and requests to eat her packed lunch at 10am from my non-breakfast eating daughter? Coco pops bars might be frowned upon, containing chocolate as they do; maybe bananas with their energy giving qualities might be favoured and deemed satisfactory?

I believe I have lots to learn in the ways of school run mum, and will pay close attention on the next drop off, carefully studying those who stand outside the primary two class, smug that they now ‘get it’ after having had a whole year to learn the rules. In the meantime, the lip gloss will remain, after all, the luscious shade of pink matches my Minnie Mouse pyjama bottoms perfectly.

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