I knew it was going to be one of those days when the first thing I touched this morning – the bathroom tap – pretty much fell apart in my hand. So I mopped up the water and reached for the cleanser instead which promptly squirted in every direction except the cotton wool. That’s when you have to sigh and accept that everything is going to go just a little bit pear-shaped. Then Pickle’s kiddy computer wouldn’t work and Poppet’s favourite web page (colouring-in small fluffy animals) couldn’t be found and do you think that I could get the water into the kettle without spraying myself? And now the kids are ganging up on me; ‘Mummy can you dress this Barbie’, ‘Mummy I don’t like black toast’, ‘Mummy can you find my specific gold badge thing that I haven’t even thought about let alone seen for 3 weeks?’, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Ugh.
It doesn’t really help that I am more than a little bit knackered having been on my own since Saturday morning when Nobby zoomed off to Gothenburg for a symposium. I never sleep well when he’s away and so now I daren’t sit down for too long in case I slip into a coma. And we had such a busy weekend too. As soon as the taxi had pulled away we were off to the school fete at the French school. Just getting through the door at that place is a challenge in itself as you have to get past the headmistress, affectionately known as ‘The Hag’. She’s part dragon, part poodle, barely tolerates us Brits and will take any opportunity to wag her finger at you and shake her head giving it ‘non, c’est interdit’. So when I showed up late without the obligatory written authorisation slip we were supposed to take to prove that we were actually part of the school, despite the fact she sees me 4 times a day during term time and has done for the last 3 years, the poodle hair started to swing and I thought we’d have to go all the way home again. But for once sense prevailed and we were allowed to go and play, although I was later roped in to manning a stall as punishment.
Later that day we went next door to a birthday party for The Twins. This is also the home of our French landlord so there really was no getting out of it. The twins are the same age as Pickle and can be quite a handful. They come over once a week for an English ‘lesson’ for which I get paid in bottles of champagne, and rightly so as I need a drink after an hour with those two. I hastily swallowed the dictionary before going as all the other mummies were French. We had a good time but we never did find out the translation for ‘pea-shooter’.
Sunday had us driving 2 hours to Normandy to the annual lunch party held by our French tutor for all his clients at Nobby’s office and other enterprises. Without Nobby there I managed to avoid the pseudo-team meeting amongst all his colleagues and sat with my friends. Unfortunately that meant I missed the fact that his new boss of three weeks was there so only managed a very brief ‘hello, goodbye’ as we all left. Oops. It wasn’t easy trying to crowbar the children away from all the toys and of course the pond – no children went in this year but Pickle’s Lightning McQueen car somehow took a dive so the pond got a free dredging as we (successfully) searched for it. By the time we were nearing Paris it was really late and I was dropping off so we stopped at McDonald’s for tea. It’s amazing what a Big Mac can do for a flagging mummy!
Getting us all up for school the next morning was a challenge though. I opted for some gentle household chores after dropping them off, feeling guilty all the while having watched Anthea recently (Perfect Housewife) and knowing I should really be dusting on top of all my kitchen cupboards. Anyway, I’ve always been of the opinion that furniture doesn’t really need dusting until you can write your name on it. Instead, I sorted through a crate-load of artistic masterpieces that Poppet has been accumulating under a chair for a few months. It pains me to throw away any of her princesses and butterflies but I wanted to reclaim that little corner of the dining room; Anthea would be proud. I rewarded myself with coffee at Rose’s place, which was far more fun, even though I had to play dodgems with more JCBs and trenches on the way there and we couldn’t sit out in the sun because of all the noise. There’s nasty yellow spray paint outside her place meaning it’s marked for excavation and I then found some orange marks outside my front gate too so it looks like the road-works are here to stay a while. So much for the ‘peaceful’ suburbs! Her lounge was nice and quiet though, until the Tamagotchi started bleeping for food or a bottom-wipe – if anyone ever buys one of those for my kids they will be straight off my Christmas card list.
I took Poppet for a haircut after school and I think we must have met The Hag’s sister in the hairdressers. She examined Poppets hair before washing it and wagged a finger at me saying her hair is full of sand. Well, she’s 6. What on earth did you expect to find in her hair? She told me that it might attract lice (hilariously translated as ‘poux’ in French). I’d always been told that lice prefer clean hair in which case neither of my children are in any danger of getting them - there’s usually far worse than sand lurking in their barnets due to their horror of hair-washing. I don’t think that went down too well though as she then spent all of 2 minutes trimming the hair and charged me 26 euros for the privilege, 9 of which was for washing it!! Pooh.
Anyway, Nobby finally came home last night, laiden with gifts for the children and duty free cosmetics for me (he got it on the way out this time) so all is now well with the world and I can sleep at night again. Pass me a pillow someone.