Our childcare centre has a “No food past this point!” sign on their gate.
(Yes, gate. Secured with a keypad into which you must enter a secret code in which to enter, and which one can never remember as they are standing there holding car keys, small child, mobile phone, creche bag and seven hats snaffled by the aforementioned small child only last week … It is located inside the door, with the handle located approximately 8 foot off the step you are required to stand on to reach the handle. This is to ensure strange, childless people, with free hands and dubious purposes entering the centre.)
It is not a suggestion. It is a very strong warning.
It is a good one, as they have some children in there with some very serious allergies. Ones that cause serious death. Or, you know, general death. It’s not good.
It is even more terrible when a particular mother is left on her own, aside from her three male offspring, and has an early morning appointment for her own mental wellbeing. Essential.
The youngest child has chosen this particular morning to sleep well past his usual 4.16am, beyond the oft waking time of 6.23am and past the Oh, Frig, I Need Him Up, Dressed and Breakfasted time of 7.00am.
Thus it is I yell instructions to older two; “Eatgetdresseddishwashermakesureshoesareonandlockdooronyourwaytoschoolloveyoubyebegood!”, stuff a VitaWeat with vegemite into face of littlest one, who, oh, thank the lord, is still dressed in clothes thanks to his falling asleep on the couch the night before and …????? not waking up till after 7am! WTF?
I drove the 3 minutes to childcare, yelling “Hurry up and eat!” the whole way. Arrive just before the doors to childcare open, which allows me to stand in front of him, flapping my hands in the air, indicating he should eat faster and hoping the very action of my pretending to shove food down his throat will have an effect. It doesn’t.
The doors open, angels singing emanate from it’s opening and I glance at my little cherub. Vegemite and crumbs adorn his … I was going to say “lips” but as they covered his face to just under his eyeballs, that would be a lie … his shirt front, I notice (and recall) has ice cream from last nights venture running down Thomas the Tank Engine’s face, along with fresh vegemite and butter.
He is a walking allergen. A serious one at that.
I face another, near-fatal and equally traumatic situation. I know I have a spare shirt in my handbag. At least, I’m pretty sure I do, and I stand in the car park, rifling through it, removing old tissues, size 2 underpants, escaped tampons and my mints, which have also eluded their container and are mixing with the tampons.
I grasp the blue t-shirt in amongst all this and just hope that it is also adorned with Thomas. I’m not entirely sure I can, now, face a screaming tantrum in the childcare carpark, with a anaphylaxis inducing pre-schooler and a need to be with my psychotherapist.
I am safe.
I hastily wipe him down, change his shirt and drop him off.
And debate turning my phone off for fear they ask me to come and collect him for being a danger to other children …