When you’re trying hard to balance a proper, grown-up career with the challenge of being a good Mum to two children, sometimes things become a bit overwhelming. It’s easy to feel a bit down-hearted when something goes wrong, and even though I know there are things I could do to make it easier, I just really don’t like making packed lunches before I go to bed.
Which is silly, because every parent knows that time passes much more quickly in the morning that it does at night. 07:25 becomes 08:25 in far less than an hour, I’m sure of it. My children don’t exactly help. As my own mother would have put it when I was growing up:
“These children have two speeds. Dead slow and stop.”
Andrew will attest that this is absolutely true. While other children might actively source their own clothes, my two just seem to sit there, and wait. And wait. And wait. I’d do an experiment to see how long I could leave it before they actually got their own clothes and got ready, but I know it would be futile. We’d be late. Every day.
I’ve tried lots of things: no TV until breakfast is finished and clothes are on, no reading until the same, but they don’t really work. The only thing that does is constant chivvying, and that’s quite wearing on me and them:
“Eat up. Drink up. Get your clothes. Where’s your school bag? Have you remembered your homework folder?”
It just goes on and on and on.
So, this morning, because it was holiday club, not school, we adopted a slightly more leisurely approach to getting ready. Didn’t work. Lori ended up in floods of tears because I wouldn’t let her wear her ripped, dirty cat outfit to Carnival Day, and Josie selected a pair of trousers that, at my primary school, would have led to taunts of “Half-masts!”.
Undaunted, I cheered Lori up with proper half-masts, and a bandana that makes her look like a pirate, and then we tumbled on to a very rare thing for us in the morning: a bus.
I felt quite smug. 6 different fruits and veg in the packed lunch (count ‘em: cucumber, tomato, red pepper, raspberries, banana, and a plum), and as a treat, a reduced-sugar jam roll. A bus that meant I wouldn’t be late for work. And two adorable children pretending (Lori) and actually (Josie) reading about Andy Murray’s victory in the tennis and then telling a lovely old pensioner how Mummy had paid for Andy Murray to win Wimbledon (not true, but my employer has been one of his sponsors right from the start of his career, and they had noticed the RBS badge on his shirt and this was Lori’s interpretation of that fact).
Bus over, and smugness lasted for about 5 seconds. Which is how long it took me to realise that something was a bit different about Lori.
“Where’s your rucksack?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Aaaaaaaah!” she replied, “It’s on the bus!”
I delivered her to after-school club, and they said they would source a lunch from the shop down the road. But I wasn’t satisfied. I had made that packed lunch, and it had 6 different kinds of fruit and veg in it!
I couldn’t wait for it to be picked up from the depot. So, I set about finding the bag bus with the aid of the Lothian bus timetable, and the Bustracker app. The 09:23 36 at Broughton Primary School gets to Holyrood at 09:52. The next 36 after that to leave Holyrood is 10:02. The bus driver would be the same, because I know they change outside the Primary School on the way back, and they aren’t on a route that goes passed the depot. On its way back, the 36 goes right past my work. All I needed to do was work out which bus it would be, and wait for it out there. I figured it would be the 10:29, just off Dundas Street, so I ducked out of my 10 o’ clock meeting a little early and went over to wait.
And what do you know? There it was. A black Hello Kitty bag with white stars, and a very surprised bus driver.
No-one had ever tracked down their own lost property on his bus before. But 6 fruit and veg!
I called After-School Club, in some jubilance, to arrange a drop-off, but they hadn’t believed that I would get it back. They’d already bought her a ham roll and some more fruit. No need for me to drop it off.
Never mind. I know what I’m having for lunch today, and the taste of victory is sweet (well, reduced-sugar jam sweet).