As has become standard practice nowadays the kids are fully booked on our weekends to have them. Rugby, gymnastics, birthday parties, sleepovers etc. As a rule we have no issue with them going off to these activities but we do object to the 12 hours notice we get given and an itinerary so anal even Hitler would be impressed.
This particular weekend saw The Oldest One and Middle One at a pool party for one of their friends birthdays. The Bearded One had to work and so we came up with another “work around it” plan.
Bizarrely the party was from 4-6pm, smack bang in the middle of The Baby’s feed. Between us we agreed he would take The Small One to work with him and I would take the other 3 to the pool party and wait there as they needed to be “supervised at all times”. Funnily enough out of the 9 mums there only 2 of us were supervising.
As we walk into the pool (having waited in the car park for The Bearded One to bring the swimming costumes we forgot!!) we are barked at. Actually barked at.
“Are you staying?? Yes you, are you staying? Only you don’t need a pound for the locker, just pile everything in the corner”.
I have to point out that whilst I’ve been doing the school runs for the last 18 months or so I still can only pair up a couple of children to their parents. Also none of the mums like me. There is a real “team twilight” issue going on at the school. On my team, The Bearded One, the kids, the school secretary and one mum who accidentally mistook me for someone else and now feels obligated to carry on talking to me.
The other team – everyone else.
I don’t understand why. I’ve done my bit. I’ve made the lunches, I’ve wiped the bums and noses, I’ve sat through nativity plays, their school photo is on our fridge, I’ve played Santa, the tooth fairy, the good guy, the bad guy, I’ve even shared my food. If that isn’t parenting I don’t know what is!
It is getting better, I’m even allowed to sit at the “popular” picnic table during summer and not the awkward bench with overgrown bushes taking up 50% of the space.
I decided some months ago that I had every right to be there and deliberately started talking to the other mums, briefly. I didn’t want to get caught in an actual conversation with them obviously. I just liked watching their annoyance when they realised they’d said hello to me.
So back to the pool. Having been barked at by a Mum who I can only assume is the parent of the birthday child we head into the changing area. Not before having to put on the blue “outdoor shoe” protectors. You know the ones, you see them on CSI when there’s been a fucking murder. The kids are now pissing themselves laughing as I struggle with a baby, change bag, towels and the murder shoes. Having finally got them on I usher everyone into the change area where I realise 3 things.
1. It’s hotter than the fucking desert.
2. It’s absolute carnage.
3. Not a single other person is wearing the bastard murder shoes!
There are kids everywhere, running around with one sock and a half inflated arm band screaming at each other. Instantly our kids have dropped their bags and run off into respective communal changing rooms. Ffs.
I’m left standing there with The Baby, concerned he may pass out from the heat. Or I might. Wearing the bastard murder shoes (which by the way are exceptionally slippy) walking around as if I’ve shat myself trying to steady my balance whilst calling out to the kids over a sea of screams. Delightful.
I don’t know what the etiquette is here. When I’ve taken the kids swimming before they change in their own changing rooms. The girls in one, they boy in his own and me standing outside the two, stripping off like some kind of over protective naturist. Paranoia is at an all time high for me and suddenly everyone is a threat. I also go into over the top, “they’re with me” mode so it doesn’t look like I’m a dodgy random just chilling in a changing room.
Do I go in to the communal changing room? If so which one? I assume I can go in the girls one but definitely not the boys. The Baby is too young for me to stick his head round the door and report back.
Before I could have a total meltdown they’re changed and out. Like slippery little fish trying to jump back in the water they’re edging their way to the pool. The Baby and I have to walk upstairs to the viewing area and I’m reluctant to leave them to get in the pool alone.
I remind myself that they are capable of starting fires with cotton wool (true story!) and will be fine getting in a pool. Maybe it’s because of that knowledge that I’m in a state.
Having ignored the “put it in a pile” instructions – this will 100% save time later – I shove everything into a teeny tiny locker and head upstairs.
The viewing area runs the length of the pool but is split into two rooms. Motivational music from the gym is playing loudly and the screams of excitement from the kids are muffled slightly by the glass.
I notice the barky mum laying out party food. Oh holy hell. I thought it was just a swim thing, I didn’t realise I was stuck at an actual kids party.
I find a seat next to another mum, gingerly asking if I can sit there. Basically trying to work out who she is. No idea.
“Does yours go to school with Logan?” she asks.
(Who the fuck is Logan?! Looks around – sees balloon with Logan on, must be birthday child.) Occurs to me I don’t actually know if they do. I say yes anyway.
I realise I have to ask a question back. That’s how these conversations work.
“Which one is yours?” (Oh god, is that offensive??)
“The one with the pink swimsuit and armbands”.
Well that fucking narrows it down!
And with that the conversation is over.
I’m texting The Bearded One to say how awful it is but the kids are loving it when I get a message through to say he and The Small One managed to step in dog poo and walk it through the whole downstairs of my newly bleached floors. Not to worry as he was cleaning them again but he was really stressed.
I asked if he would like to swap places.
The mum of the birthday child is removing cling film from plates of small sandwiches so I see my opportunity. I go over and ask her if she wants some help.
Well I may as well have had a shit on her sons birthday cake for the reaction I got. “No I’m fine”. Not even a thanks. No eye contact.
Oh it’s on!
Going back to my seat with The Baby who is entranced by the chaos below I grab my phone and start messaging The Bearded One for support. His response “fuck em”.
He calls me and I walk into the second room with The Baby to rant.
I tell him about how rude the mum was, how all she’s done is moan about the cost of the party, how no one seems to be watching the kids. Im in holier than thou mode and in a full on rant, I end the call by insulting her haircut.
Having made light of the situation and feeling better for being a total bitch I return to the room only to find the music hasn’t been playing in there and everyone heard exactly what I was saying.
Oh. My. God.
I have no choice but to front it out. Smiling as I take my seat I can feel the daggers coming at me from across the room. Trying to break the tension I say to the mum of pink swimsuit child, “does your daughter go to school with Lawrence?”
“Logan. No I’m his aunty”.
It’s the mother’s sister.
At this point I’ve given myself a stiff neck from sitting so incredibly still to avoid turning around. As other mums descend into the room sitting as far away from me as possible I see Birthday Mum go over and update them.
Joy. Back to the awkward bench for me I guess.
The Oldest One and The Middle One are waving to me, a couple of parents are looking up. I head down to see what the problem is.
“I need a poo”.
Of course you do! You only have an hour to swim but naturally you need a poo in the middle of it. I should have known as this happens EVERY time I take them swimming which means EVERYONE getting out the pool and standing around freezing like the poo police.
Toilet issues resolved and the hour of swimming is up. I’ve fed The Baby and now have the challenge of helping the kids get dressed.
Again it is total chaos, some have lost towels, some need shampoo and others have no underwear. Ours seem to have their shit together apart from The Middle One who is trying to squeeze himself, still wet, into skinny jeans. I leave him to it as it’s best he learns this lesson sooner rather than later.
Kids sort of dry and wet towels collected from the floor we’re off to the party. I’m walking slowly up the stairs as if I’m heading towards the head teachers office.
As I enter the room I have never seen anything like it. The screaming is at an all time high, there’s balloons being popped, streamers being thrown and mountains and mountains of sugar being consumed.
The Baby and I sit in the corner minding our own business when a child comes up and hits me in the back with a balloon. I do the fake “how funny” face in case anyone was looking. Little shit.
We have 15 minutes to go, The Bearded One has stopped replying to my messages obviously busy elsewhere the bastard.
There is a minute to go.
Again I’m confused over the etiquette, do we leave bang on 6pm? Is there a casual waiting period? If I let the kids lead this we’ll never leave.
I notice the Dads start packing up. Brilliant! Gathering our 1,000 bags I try and round up the kids. Party bags collected and I decide to take them over to the birthday mum to say thanks for the invite.
She is with a group of people, she sees me coming and looks away. As I approach she keeps me waiting like a teacher waiting to tell you off. Finally she turns and looks directly at the kids. I thank her and she says you’re welcome. To the kids!
She then says to me whilst looking at my murder shoes THAT I STILL HAVE ON. “You can leave the present over there”.
Oh. My. God. We didn’t bring a present.
“Ok no problem” I say as I’m herding the kids out the door when The Oldest One says loudly “we didn’t bring a present”.
Laughing like an extra from Absolutely Fabulous I roll my eyes and say “kids” before essentially running out the door.
I can’t wait for the Monday morning school run now!