Tuesday 25 October 2011

Backfiring surprise

I happened to be driving past Betty's school at home-time last Friday, so I decided to surprise my little darling by collecting her in the car, rather than meeting her off the school bus.  I also wanted to demonstrate to the teachers that I do still exist and care.

I was greeted by her teacher who turned to Betty and enthusiastically said 'Look, isn't that lovely, your mum has come to pick you up!' This immediately made me feel like a neglectful parent. Betty gave me a big smile and took my hand, and began tugging me towards the car, eager to tell me all about her day, I imagined.  

As I got dragged across the car park by a silent Betty who was probably too overcome with joy and excitment to talk, I had pangs of guilt and wondered whether, despite her insisting on the whole bus thing, I was damaging my child by letting her do it at such a tender age. Would she grow up with feelings of abandonment and neglect, and would it be soley my fault if she turned to a life of crime?

These doubts were short-lived.  As soon as we were safely in the confines of the car and out of her teacher's earshot, Betty turned on me: 'Why are you here Mummy?  I was really looking forward to going on the bus with my friends, you've ruined it now'.  'There is always tomorrow,' I reasoned. 'Tomorrow is too far away,' she retorted stroppily.  She made me promise I wouldn't do it again, and it took a KitKat bribe to get her to be nice to me again.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

The secret club

Almost from Betty's first day of starting school (six weeks ago) she has been nagging us to let her go on the school bus.

I had reservations, mainly because I thought she was too young.  I felt that she needed her mum or dad to walk her up the playground to her classroom, hang her coat up, put her book bag in the right place, and make her squirm by trying to sort her hair out, wipe the porridge off her face, and kiss her goodbye in front of her teacher.

To make myself feel better, I reasoned that Betty taking the school bus would mean I would avoid having to awkwardly manoeuvre my people carrier in amongst the Range Rovers and BMWs in the miniscule school carpark.  I also wouldn't have to face thin and glamorous mums every single morning and afternoon, who all stare at my greasy hair and protruding stomach and probably wonder whether or not it is safe to congratulate me on my impending birth (it's not).   

This school bus is pretty tame - it's a little minibus, and the journey from our house to the school is about two minutes, along a country road, including a Postman Pat-style railway bridge.  So after a lot more nagging from Betty, and Tom telling me she would be absolutely fine, I finally agreed. 

Betty has been going to and from school on the school bus since Monday - my innocent sweet little girl got on the bus at the end of our driveway at 8.33am, and then got off the bus again at 3.33pm about ten years older.

I have been finding cryptic notes written by older kids, in Betty's book bag, which mainly consist of random letters or pictures.  When I ask Betty what they are or who wrote them, she tells me she is in a secret club with five other children, and I am not allowed to know what they say.  Aside from the secret club, one note was clearly meant for me and said: 'Can S come to my house for tea?'  When I asked Betty who 'S' was, she told me that she is her new best friend, but is NOT a member of the secret club. 

Using my best detective skills I have worked out a couple of their rules; whenever Dolly tries to enter a room, Betty barricades the door and says: 'You can only come in if you call me Princess'. Trousers are also a big no-no - Tom, Dolly and I all got chastised for this. 

Tomorrow the whole school are going to Cardiff to visit a Hindu temple.  Betty has been worried because a member of the secret club has told the other members that, inside the temple, they will have to walk barefoot across fire and do yoga in front of everyone.  It broke my heart a bit that this evening Betty was frantically searching for my yoga dvd so that she could practice. 

Sadly, Betty is no longer a member of my secret club - the club where its members would make play dough, play with Megabloks, paint pictures of rainbows, and watch Peppa Pig - instead she has been poached by some six year olds.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Caught out

At around midday yesterday, I was happily driving along in my car, relishing my child-free morning, and enjoying listening to MY music in peace. 

I was on a narrow country lane and thinking about the gorgeous winter coat I was about to buy for myself, when I had to pull in to let an oncoming minibus past.

As it passed me, I realised that it was the school minibus, and that Betty was on it with her classmates.  They were coming back from a morning out at another school.  It's one thing for your four-year-old to be at school and playing with beads and plasticine, but to meet her out and about, and doing things independently of you, is very weird. 

I burst into tears (I don't think the minibus passengers saw).  And I didn't stop crying until I had reached town and had my new coat in my arms.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Over-ambitious fairies

Having battened down the hatches a week ago ready for the winter that is going to be 'twice as bad as last year', this sudden freak weather made us think we might want to go camping.  However, on Saturday morning Betty announced that she was 'far too tired from having to go to school, and really needed to rest at home' this weekend.

Both Tom and I were quietly relieved.  As much as we love tents, it was exhausting even to think about getting out all the camping paraphernalia that had been slung up into the loft some weeks ago.

So instead we stayed at home and were impressively attentive towards our kids; a done-in Betty and an annoyed Dolly (Goldilocks the goldfish had just pegged it).  We did lots of sedate crafty type things, like these Plaster of Paris fairy cakes which I was pretty excited about. I perhaps became a little too protective over them, though I did allow Betty to hold them as long as I was around to supervise.

The girls have been leaving random items such as felt tips, mud, and now fairy cakes (to my horror), for the fairies who come and have parties in their den at night.  In return the fairies leave a little surprise. In fact they are getting more and more ambitious with the ways they say thank you.  It started with little trails of glitter (fairy dust), and beads, but being slightly obsessive fairies, they quickly upped their game.

Betty was sitting in her den this morning admiring the latest fairy thank you gesture - a throne carved out of a butternut squash. Inspecting the slightly shoddy workmanship she wondered if the hens had eaten half of it, and so told me to ask the chickens if they had attended the fairies' party the night before. I don't know why she thinks I can talk 'chicken' but I asked them anyway, and one hen replied with a cluck.  Betty gave a knowing nod, and informed me that they had indeed attended the party.  I couldn't help thinking that putting chickens and fairies together at the same party was surely a recipe for disaster.

Slightly flummoxed by the new vegetable throne addition to her den, Betty asked: 'If I make the fairies a thank you card do you think they will leave me a chocolate croissant, and then maybe a big pink bike without stabilisers?