My eldest son starts ‘Big School’ for the first time this week. I am taking this in my stride. Yet I look around me (both physically and in the blogosphere) and wonder what’s going on in the lives of others. I read about tears shed at preschool graduations and a sense of loss that cuts so deep with the advent of ‘real’ school days that tears are literally splashing into chai lattes as I write. I, on the other hand, laugh in the face of enforced separation. My four (going on five) year old is not my best friend. We have not spent many happy hours crafting fairy castles out of cardboard boxes or reading adorable picture books about mischievous bunnies (goodbye Thomas, I hope you get locked up in Tidmouth Sheds never to be seen again!); we have not spent many happy hours baking misshapen cupcakes; I have not sipped a hot coffee whilst watching him happily colouring cute stick figure scenes.
Does anyone else look at some of the stuff on Pinterest and feel a) stunned that other people have the time, skill and creativity to create childrens’ rooms that look like they were designed and commissioned for a Terence Conran photo shoot, or handmade toys, clothes and artefacts straight out of a glossy magazine, b) just a wee bit inadequate?
I’ll admit it, in my ideal world I would not be so rich that I could pay for a professional to do this for me, I would do it myself – brilliantly! But unfortunately I’m a bit lazy and I don’t have much free time.
When JJ first started to notice that there was a world outside his cot I was quick to flick through all the ‘baby safety’ catalogues and source the tallest, most secure stair gate I could find to put across his bedroom door. Of course this is mainly for his own protection as his doorway drops down a step and faces out over a steep staircase which itself cannot be gated due to the non-symmetrical pattern of the banisters.. But no-one’s complaining that we have also benefited from the peace and quiet afforded by our child’s inability to run into the living room at 9.30pm demanding a banana. Or refuse to go to bed and stay there. Or re-appear 200 times to have a good old whinge about CBeebies axing Topsy and Tim.
I’d like to think I’m not the only person out there who’s house cleaning standards dropped somewhat with the advent of children. Not to say that my home was ever a Mecca of dazzling surfaces and rarely was furniture ever moved – even in spring. Nowadays though, the entire fiasco generally consists of an hour and a half flying around the house with a cloth and a hoover once a week on a Tuesday afternoon. Occasionally a dustpan gets involved.
Last week however, my annual leave petered out at work with three whole weeks left to go. Drastic action had to be taken in order to fulfil my lacklustre yet obsessive need to maintain my own half-arsed standards. Yes, that’s right, I enlisted the assistance of the boy.