7.26am and a call comes from downstairs.
“Right, I’m off. I’ll see you all tonight,” Teaching Dad shouts.
With only one foot pulled into a pair of black tights, I quickly look up and scan my surroundings. Zooming in, I clock that my girl still has un-brushed hair, no shoes on and is currently glued to the tattered and cracked thing that once upon a time resembled an iPad; my boy is heaving in a corner filling a new nappy with the good stuff holding firmly onto his second Fruit Shoot of the day.
“Can you just…”
What? Quick. You only have a few seconds. Put the towels in the washer, take the dirty nappy downstairs, make me a sandwich, wash up, help me dress the kids, help dress me. Something. Quick. Anything.
“Can you just…”
The door slams. Damn. The moment is gone.
Once again, I survey my surroundings. I figure I have twenty minutes before I have to leave the house and in that time I can:
Dress, change the boy’s bum, re-dress him, drag a brush through my girl’s hair, brush their teeth, put a wash on, transfer some washing to the dryer, take the collection of empty Fruit Shoot bottles downstairs, pack bags, run up and down stairs three times to check hair straighteners are turned off and eat something…(usually discarded toast from the boy.)
At 7.47am, I leave the house and I am running late.
My physical being needs to be at my school desk at 8.30am.
I notice snot hanging from my boy’s nose and because I don’t want to hand over a snotty child to the ladies at nursery, I dash back into the house for tissue. Running back out, I lock the door and head to my car. As soon as I turn the ignition on, I have no recollection of locking the door, so I run off to check the front door again. It’s locked. I wonder, once again, if my straighteners are switched off even though I know I moved them from my room into the spare room. Who knows? Perhaps plugs can fall from beds into plug sockets…back into the house I go.
7.53am and we arrive at nursery. Despite being very content at nursery, the boy usually cries and clings to some body part of mine. This morning, however, a small miracle occurred when he allowed me to put him down and he waddled off towards the breakfast table.
I wanted to kiss him goodbye.
In a millisecond, that feeling vanished.
“Quick!” I turned to my girl. “Go go go! Get out before he notices.”
We run out of the door, down the path to school, where we wait in line for Breakfast Club to open at 8am.
This is where it starts to get interesting. And when I mean interesting, I mean this is where the adrenaline kicks in because there is only thirty minutes left of The Rushed Hour and I am still in possession of one child.
8.02am and the gate is opened by the most pleasant man.
“Good morning!” he greets everyone as we enter.
I smile politely at him whilst at the same time realising that despite being second in the queue this morning, three children and a parent have slipped in in front of us.
Damn-it! I dropped the ball when I passed the time of day with the nice man at the gate.
Should I tell them that there was a line? Should I try to trip one of them up? No? I’ll just say: “Urgh! Mummy’s going to be late again,” really loudly. It falls on deaf ears. Already a pro at this, the school mum has no time to hear my complaints as she has her eyes on the target: the sign in and payment desk.
Upon reaching the desk, she then decides to have a conversation. I know! What on earth is wrong with people these days? They actually want to pass the time of day with an actual human being. Do they not know that in…argh…twenty six minutes I have a computer to switch on?
“Yes, well I used to have a security guard follow me around Tesco because my daughter used to scream that loud,” I hear her saying.
I begin to tap my foot loudly behind her because, you know, every little helps.
It doesn’t help.
“You’re going to have to go and pick your breakfast yourself babe because Mummy is going to have to leave straightaway.”
The mum and children wander off and it’s our turn.
“It’s £2 for today please,”
I hand over a ten pound note and start to explain that I need some change in return because my lovely and kind colleague bought me fish and chips last night at Open Evening and I have to pay him back.
Is that someone’s foot tapping behind me?
I pocket my change and together we go to pick some cereal and toast. My girl sits down next to her friend, I grab her bag and coat and go to hang it up. I stop. I turn back and go and kiss her. One child is going to get a kiss goodbye from me today. I then go and drop her bag off in her cute little classroom, which makes me remember how untidy I left mine yesterday.
I run to the car.
8.08am and I am driving to work. I can make it with time to spare in twenty-two minutes…if I drive at 50mph…and am the only car on the road…
So, my journey plays out something like this:
“Don’t let him out! Don’t let him out! Don’t let him…oh. Why’d you let him out?”
A few minutes pass and I am making good time until I reach the dreaded right turn onto a busy road.
There’s a few cars at the junction ahead of me.
“Don’t be turning right. Don’t be turning right!”
There’s a learner driver waiting patiently in the car in front.
I put on some rock music to calm me down. Unsurprisingly, it does quite the opposite, but at least the poor learner driver will think I am singing loudly rather than swearing profusely.
“Don’t turn right!”
They are wanting to turn right. Eventually, they make it out of the junction and I turn to pull out straight behind them looking like I am being towed by an invisible tow rope. I now need to take a left.
“Don’t you dare turn left. Please don’t turn left. Ooh pub.”
Yes! They don’t turn left.
And, I am on it again.
Zooming up a hill and I can almost smell the scent of education in the air.
Then suddenly, a huge Eddie Stobart lorry pulls out a few cars in front of me and the pace slows to 10mph. 10mph! Is that even a thing?
I finally reach another junction and, while in stand still traffic, I text my boss. Stuck behind a lorry, I tell her. I want to punch someone, I tell her. (I have never punched anyone or anything in my life, so I very much doubt that with five minutes left to get to school, I would actually get out of my car and go punch anyone – let alone a man driving a huge lorry…)
I receive a text back and she assures me not to worry and to drive safe! God, love her!
By now, I am in the vicinity of my school and I can see pupils walking with their uniforms on and shirts hanging out.
“Get your shirts tucked in!” I yell. After all, it’s 8.26am, so I am almost on the clock; I figure I might as well start doing some work.
Luckily, the sounds of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ probably (hopefully) drown me out.
Turning into the gates, I park my car, listen to the opening three chords of the next song, turn off the engine and climb out. I rush through the door and into my classroom, change into my work shoes and switch on the computer. At 8.29am, I saunter out into the corridor and walk calmly down to the staff room for our morning meeting.
It’s as if I have been here for hours.
Except, in my chest my heart is beating as fast as a Tre Cool drum solo.
The School Run: Nailed It!