I’m not great at having things sprung on me – it doesn’t take much for our notverywelloiledmachined to start veering over the edge into the canyon below.
Tonight, just back from day 7 of my course, having bathed the Monkey and preparing for bed, I checked her school-bag for urgent messages (like they need a batch of 24 cakes for tomorrow, that sort of thing) only to discover we’ve got the bloody Baby Bear for the evening “to entertain.” I say this like it’s something I had the first clue about what was entailed. But then I spotted Baby Bear’s diary and my heart sank as I saw the items I had ear-marked on my todo list that evening disappear into the ether. I’d got homework…
I’ve never read Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It (ideologically, I’m just never going to buy a novella written by a Daily Mail columnist. Never Gonna Happen.) But I do know a teensy bit about it, thanks to SJP’s face being plastered across London buses for most of last year. Flicking back over what everyone else had written (got the kid from school, gave them a thoroughly nutritious meal we all made together, went to the park, made cupcakes together, brought about world peace, that sort of thing) I noticed the number of mothers to write the likely truth of Baby Bear’s visit in the Diary hovered at around zero. There was very little in the way of:
“Baby bear sat in the school-bag until 9pm when XXX’s mummy found me. So I sat whilst she swore a lot, had more units of wine than she should have and made up the details in my diary of what her kid did with the childminder because frankly she didn’t have a clue. Mummy then put me back in the bag after the parental self-awareness exercise made her feel very insecure. She also commented aloud that she had one hour in the evening to deal with laundry and guff like this whereas some parent got the bear over Christmas in order to write their ‘material’ and this was frankly not fair. She was supposed to write this with the child who went to nursery, but it was either stay up all night writing this with them or get them to have a decent night’s sleep…'”
Might I say, I fully support the schools in their efforts to engage parents, but please advance publish a rota – we are very bad hosts otherwise! I’m now up at 5am doing the things I would have done last night if I hadn’t had to concoct an essay about yesterday’s imaginary activities and provide faked photographic evidence of the day. It’s a good job I’m not the editor of a daily, they get into trouble for that sort of thing.
The extent of our hospitality was giving baby bear a bedtime story (3). He got The Tiger Who Came to Tea, The Gruffalo’s Child and The Snail and the Whale. And he was very grateful for it.