The trouble with loving child-free hours with the kind of passion usually associated with..um..child-filled hours, especially now that bedtime for Josie and Maddy seems to be when-they-decide-o’clock, is that I have to stay up really late for a fix of unencumbered pottering. The resulting daytime sleep deficit means that I tend to nod off at important moments in my childrens’ lives. This does not look good on me.
For one, I accompanied Josie to her first 6th form Open Day recently, which entailed hopping and shuffling along (bags and coats were my job) in the wake of my lovely girl as she strode forth into her new life, delicately, shyly smiling around her and lobbing back showers of leaflets for the old crow to snatch at with a wizened claw. Eventually we sat down for the head teacher’s sales pitch - with a friend of Josie’s, also with mum in tow, whom I politely greeted (wishing I was more shabby chic than shabby shit) and blow me it wasn’t five minutes before I’d nodded off, head in lap!
I can only explain the next inappropriate sleeping incident as an unconscious refuge from a ghastly situation; I’d booked Bonnie onto a fashion drawing workshop with her friend only to discover that I was to be the fashion model (‘Do a pose! Hands on hips and throw your head back!’). Silk purse and sow’s ear came to mind (oh, Mummy, you don’t really look beautiful’); my best bet was a seated pose hiding awkwardly beneath my designer bonnet (accessories were provided). Next thing was a tap on the leg ‘You’re not supposed to be asleep!’ (the instructor).
Now then, playing Maid of Honour to Bonnie as she prepared for her Tudors assembly - the elaborately twisted hair, the phone calls to a friend (got to look the same), the white lies ‘that scarf turns your best party dress into an exact Jane Seymour lookalike, it really does!’ – were all par for the course. But when the call came from school because Bonnie had lost the whole costume on the way to school and was 'upset' (what d'you want me to do about it?) I was obliged to ricochet around (pant, pant) piecing together a duplicate costume, run to school (puff, puff) with it - I guess I was all done in by the time I sat down to watch the actual performance, and it was all snug and warm...before I knew it the Head was thanking us for coming!
So after all that, I was in deep doggy-do for having no recollection of the assembly at all. But never mind, at the next week's music concert, I made a point of waving like a nut to my little treasures on the stage - to prove I was alert and raring to watch, listen and learn. I needn’t have worried; the music centre’s policy of introducing children to improvisation before they’ve learnt to write their name, and the resulting tuneless peeps and toots (audience nodding and ‘digging’ it, of course), always causes a forbidden hysteria to bubble up in my chest which I have to close my eyes to control, certainly no chance of a nap. Nor at Josie’s concert the next evening, for I was just settling down for a little shut eye in the Senior Guitars when Bonnie began asking loudly and repeatedly for snacks, and jumping violently off the rickety scaffolding supporting the audience seating (thud) just as the extremely talented jazz trumpeter who was supposed to be inspiring Bonnie to practice her trumpet was doing his thing. She climbed up behind me and whacked me on the shoulders ‘BOO!’ and it was home time for us: ‘Go to bed, Bonnie’. ‘No, you go to bed Mummy - you’re the one who’s always ‘so tired’…'Yes, I should' I said, 'but I just have a little pottering to do first...’