In a normal school week I’m always hollering ‘oh my giddy aunt’ at the prospect of Friday. It’s a shorter day on campus which means the need to come up with a greater number of child-tiring activities. No such concerns flit through my mind now. Every day is thus. On acid.
The conclusion of this week was no different. I upload a great sheaf of ‘art’ to the online hub, spend a little time sneering at competing parents’ own updates and take a swift glance at which horrors await us next week. Part of Mrs E’s summary includes a reminder we are nearing mid-February break; informing us all work should be up to speed. Cerberus has his dedicated support teacher in place next week, but even with that prop the notion of it working without their physical presence sends me into a swoon.
It must be said I commend the boy’s school for their efforts so far; at the start of term I was astonished at the extensive online learning programme. The thing which made me reel back and forth, resembling a rowan tree perched on a Shetland cliff, was the idea Mrs M and I would be both tutors and enforcers.
I know my son and the wisdom of the Ancients taught me a) he is aware his mother is susceptible to preposterous excuses to avoid work, and b) I would end up as Disciplinary Chief. The consequence, easily foreseen, is that Cerberus loathes me now even more than is to be expected. I have a detestable face, I’ll give him that. My habits also raise question marks; I drink wine by the barrel and smoke like a 1950s London chimney stack. I am prone to bouts of extended silence, interspersed only with an occasional mutter to myself or a roar when Cerberus / Medusa punches me in the cojones.
The children’s Rabelaisian behaviour this week has turned me into a near hermit. Spending vast periods in the study, well into the night, my status has shifted from husband and father to interloper. At the breakfast table Cerberus tutors Medusa extensively in dad-directed affronts. My favourites this week were “daddy’s face smells like a butthole”, and “daddy you smell like shit”. Somehow, from the mouth of a small child, it’s almost cute. There’s no reason for me to intervene. I see their combined attempts at language is improving their vocabulary tremendously. My only worry is that when / if school and nursery reconvene my brood find themselves ejected on day one.
Although it pains me to say it, whilst the boastful parent twerps in the online hub make me dream of setting their cars on fire, I am contented to hear similar woeful efforts at home education from villagers. Two mothers this week, of children older than ours, told me harrowing stories of how their offspring can’t sleep at night, cry during lessons, and in one case have 1800 unread emails from their high school teachers. We may have nippers across a wild age range, but they do share in the misery and failure.
The means we have found to keep a lid on our broiling blood pressure is by listening to the wireless and reading our daily newspapers; only occasionally blowing a gasket, jumping up and down with our underpants on our heads.
I don’t blame the parents. I don’t blame the teachers. I blame the government, full and square. At Micawber Towers we’ve even taken to furiously texting radio stations to release the poison swilling in our spleens. Unfortunately, it makes little difference to our present situation.
My hope and prayer for 2021, above all else, is that we will at some point collectively remember that without children there is no future. My own grandmother, 90 years old and in good health, doesn’t understand why people who need to go about their business can’t get vaccinated first. As she put it to me, ‘I’ve had my life and enjoyed every minute. I’m old now. You should get to enjoy yours’.
Thank you Granny. I couldn’t agree more.