Mrs M selects the kitchen pew with laptop whilst our youngest, Medusa, plays with her dolls on the living room table, cartoons prattling incessantly in the background. A pleasant surprise awaits on opening my inbox when I discover her elder brother, Cerberus, has a full daily schedule for the week provided by primary school. This looks promising. He also has to sign in each day with teacher Mrs E; presumably to assure the embattled educator we haven’t beat him over the head with a shovel and buried him in the back garden. The temptation remains at the forefront of my mind.
As he and I rattle through some number warm ups and phonics, I have a dawning realisation that perhaps he isn’t the same imbecile at school as he is at home. This is a success. Turns out I am a masterful teacher after all. I have found my true calling in life. I’m tempted to engage in chest pumping.
Not only do we succeed in ploughing through lessons over three hours, we manage to knock off a set exercise to write to the poor infirmities in a local care home wishing them a staving off of their imminent death, and Cerberus composes a letter to his idol Mr. Bean in which he replaces all letters c with a k. I say nothing. We conclude the day by sauntering to the post box to send off our missives.
Mrs M has managed to screech through her weekend emails, Medusa has provided minimal interference, and I can finally focus on my own work. Christ, where to start.
Determined to prove that we aren’t the most hopeless parents in our village, the school curriculum wants us to carry on with math practice on a ‘woodland walk’ so I plough forth with Cerberus in tow just before dark. Our climate has been on the refreshing side, so by the time the sun goes down around 4pm I am dragging the boy home and can feel neither my feet or hands. If schools reopened tomorrow I could say we have made a success of it.
Several shovelfuls of coal go on the fire as soon as I walk in the door and I opt for a gut-warming concoction of brandy and port in a tumbler. Then another two.
So thrilled with my success in life generally am I that I head back to the study after the children bathe for a few hours more to play catch up. One has to pay the mortgage after all.