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.

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