It’s the morning that Chippie and I get to spend in each others company. Usually, I try to think of something for us to do. Usually, it’s the zoo. Because he likes the elephants, we have a Friends of the Zoo thing and I can’t think of anything else that doesn’t require crafty type activities. I know what to expect at the zoo.
Yesterday morning, I noticed a note on Godzilla’s classroom door, requesting parent helpers for a school excursion this morning; a walk to a local park and some activities there.
Ah ha! I thought, as a lightbulb dimly flashed above my head, I will volunteer my services. This will give Chippie and I something different to do, and I can be back in time to either do my LEGO Club duties, or fob them off to Grumpy Pants and get some work done.
I load slid softly from my shoulders.
Then I went to pickup and got the “Thank you SO MUCH for offering to help tomorrow! Our group will be leaving at 11.30 and back by 2.30. THANK YOU!”
Wait. What? No.
For this essentially leaves me, at a loose end, with Chippie.
Worse, it leaves me with him.
Besides, I’d already planned my To Do List and this change of time was going to fuck with it considerably.
I contemplated checking in to see if they had enough helpers and seeing if I could get out of it. Nicely.
Then, as I was making lunches, Godzilla did something that was a little bit like stick the knife into her heart, twist, twist, twist and repeat.
“I’m so excited you’re coming on the excursion, Mum,” he tells me. “You never come on my excursions and you say you’re going to and you don’t.”
So I make a heap of food and snacks for Chippie and I, walk up to the school and wait whilst we are given a heap of instructions about behaviour.
I’m given my group of four kids, two boys (one my own) and two girls, and we follow behind the groups in front of us. The leader, despite my also having the pram with me, opts for the ‘short cut’ which requires bumpy dirt, up and down kerbs and over blusetones. Fun.
By the time we’ve walked two-and-a-half blocks, I appear to have aquired a fifth child.
“Yes, I’m in your group,” he insists, repeatedly.
I work out it is because I am The Cool Mum, who comes up to the school for LEGO Club and have a special, fun way of talking to and connecting with kids. People think I have a gift. I think I just haven’t grown up yet. Whatever.
We get towards the busy road and pedestrian-crossing-with-lights, and, very much like sheep, the kids just like to wander across because “the groups in front of them did”. That the little man is no longer green, has stopped flashing and cars are now whizzing past is irrelevant.
“STOP!” I say, because, typically, the lights happen to change as my groups arrive.
“But I want to get run over by a car,” says new kid in my group, pretending he is as cool as me and being a smartarse.
“And I want you to,” I reply. “But I’ve already lost three kids on previous excursions and the school have said if I lose any more, then I’m not allowed to come on excursions any more.”
We get across the road, and he vanishes.
“No, I’m really in this group,” he tells me, when I locate him. “I got mixed up.”
I turn back to my group just in time to see one of the girls walk into a pole, but in not enough time to do or say anything to prevent it.
We’re doing well.
We make it to the park with no further incidents, other than the speaking and demonstration bit about native plants in the area and how they were used for food, weapons and the like, being held just beside a playground.
This had something like 30 kids all saying “Can we go on the playground? Awww! It’s not fair!” at various times. So that was fun.
Chippie also had a screaming tantrum because he not only wanted to go on the playground (“Go, it’s ok, you can go. I’m just here.”) but insisted I come with him. He’d eaten all the food on the trip down and there was nothing to console him with. He was also very, very tired.
I ring Grumpy Pants and ask him to collect Chippie before heading to school to fulfil my role as LEGO Club Supervising Parent. “I’ll be there in five,” he says.
Five minutes later, I ring again. “Oh, ok, I’ll just stay here then,” he replies, from the very spot he hasn’t moved from since I rang him the first time.
Time to head back and one of the verging-on-naughty kids races up to my group, standing at the just changed lights, and smashes the button.
“Go back to your group,” I tell him.
“I’m in your group,” he informs me.
“No you’re not. Besides, I don’t want you in my group.” It was a huge effort not to add “you little fuck” to the end of that. So I didn’t bother with the effort.
Thankfully, as I required much strength shortly thereafter, as Grumpy Pants drives past and says “Want me to take Chippie?”
Chippie vehemently refuses to go.
Until Grumpy drives off.
“I WANNA GO WIF DADDY!” he proceeds to scream. After more of this, I notice Grumpy stopped at the lights ahead, and was on the verge of pulling Chippie out of his pram and stuffing him through the car window, when the lights changed.
He proceeds to scream and demand Daddy the rest of the way back to school and is so far gone in the Beside Himself stakes (as am I, but when you’re in the school grounds, you’re not allowed to show it) that I had to sit in the corner of the room and try to calm him.
By which stage, I figured I might just as well stay at school, given the proximity to School Pick Up Time.
The Vice Principal walks in to chat to the teacher. He’s a lovely man. I quite like him.
“How was the excursion,” he asks the Teacher, because he’s nice like that.
He notices me, cowering in the corner with an almost subdued, but still sobbing pre-schooler, and gives me a smile.
“I’ll send you my vodka bill,” I tell him.