Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Other people's children

Ooh I'm feeling bad now. But bitter past experience just let the words fall out of my mouth. I will have to grovel later when I see her. Explain the circumstances. It's just what you want to hear when you're having a hard day at work, some smug fester at home mum mentioning that your child kept her waiting for 5 whole minutes when there was at least half an hour to get to school. I just wanted to nip it in the bud, you see. Not that ad hoc lifts to school constitute a major delivery contract, on the lines of royal mail and amazon, no, just a child being picked up for the five minutes drive to school.

I've been lucky enough not to have to pick up too many children in my time. There have of course been the inevitable times when I would drive around London in my pyjamas in the middle of the night, rescuing teenage girls and delivering each one to a different address, and those days are certainly not over. Those I don't mind. It's only every so often. What gets me is the regular week after week grind of having to wait for a child who clearly doesn't want to go where we're going and explain at the other end why we're late. A situation I put up with for about two years.

"Please tell whoever you've got looking after them that I need them ready on the doorstep when I turn up" - there are only a number of times you can say that to a harassed parent who's already feeling indebted to you for taking their children to whatever activity, picking them up afterwards, giving them supper ("we're vegetarian, so no meat please. Oh, and organic") and waiting for parent to collect, whilst trying to keep said children from destroying your house and really annoying your own children. "Mum, we hate them. And they smell."

Mercifully, everything comes to and end. Including after school activities. Yet this arrangement left me deeply scarred. Thank goodness I now drive a very small car. And the secondary schools are just nearby.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

School Scrum

This time it was going to be easier. After all, this was my third round of secondary school applications. I'm defintely a been seen and done it type on this score.

If boring everyone witless with my knowledge of London secondary school transfer were an olympic sport, I would have more gold medals than Steve Redgrave, I really would. The whole business has to be the most stressful thing that parents have to go through - at least childbirth doesn't last that long!

Of course, we bring the stress on ourselves - whether it's the state or private system, we're all running round like headless chickens on those open days, hyperventilating at the thought of whether or not we're in the catchment area, how many times a school is oversubscribed, mixed or single sex, and so forth.

Then there's another factor a parent has to take into account - the opinion of the child! Since when did they have the right to choose anything? Well, in our case, it's since birth. And they all have different opinions, desperate to get away from the shadow of an older sibling, to do their own thing.

well the forms are in. All we have to do is wait for March 1st and pray that siblings still have priority over everyone else....

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Watching paint dry at the RA

When I go on outings with my friend G, we normally just eat and shop and talk. Sometimes we venture into the Royal Academy to view the latest exhibitions only because I have a Friend's Card and we rather get tired of the shopping. The other week we ventured into the Anish Kapoor Exhibition.

I can't paste the link here - I suggest you all google Royal Academy and Anish Kapoor and see what comes up.

Although technically brilliant, frankly it really was like watching paint dry. I haven't laughed so much since the Gilbert and George retrospective at Tate Modern. I also had the urge to touch everything. Was that the point of it? the squidgy red wax left in the corners by the huge lipstick thing trundling up and down the galleries on rails, the anticipation of the cannon being fired (we gave up on that and went to look at the mirrors) the concrete pooh sculptures, the huge rusty cave thing that had me hooting into it for an echo. My friend G was only pleased we hadn't had to pay to get in. We thought we would bring our husbands along for the comedy value, just to see their reations. G's husband nearly had a seizure at the Rothko at the beginning of the year. She's still laughing at the memory.

Later, in the members room, we didn't find anywhere to sit, but I spotted Francesa Annis chatting to two old blokes at a table. Gorgeous woman and fab actress to boot.

At least there's Van Gogh to look forward to in the spring.