Today went pear-shaped from, well Sunday lunchtime really. I took two of the nieces to the garden centre and subsequently ended up missing half of the 12.10 school assembly. Yeah, you did read that right. At the end of the assembly my Head of Year declared, “There’s always something with you!” No kidding, mate! This is Planet You Couldn’t Make It Up.
It all started (yawn) on Sunday morning really. I got up too early – 8.something ridiculous and spent far too long chain-smoking and half-listening to what the BBC calls ‘political debates’ whilst checking out Facebook, Twitter, tumblr and Pinterest (Oh yeah, I have them all – cracks me up at school when other teachers say ‘social networks like Facebook’ – because they can’t name any others.)
In between I gazed out over first the front lawn (leaning at kitchen sink, my main smoking position) and then standing by the French doors, gazing at ‘out the back’ (flicking fag ash out of the door now and again – my secondary smoking position.) Having cut both lawns and cleared away all the rubbish over the last two weekends the garden was looking pretty bare. But I didn’t fancy going around the garden centre on my own, and loading up millions of little plants would be a nightmare.
And then something very odd came over me and I thought of the niece, G. There’s nothing I like better than embarrassing teenagers except maybe being the anti-parent, undermining my brother’s ‘proper’ parenting style – this would hit both birds. So next thing I know I am ’round the corner’ and picking up two of them: G. aged 15 and the other Gor, aged 5. At first Gor. aged 5 refused to come but my brother pulled the olde ‘Aunty C. has the roof down on the car and she’s getting strawberries’, so two miles down the road we had to turn around and go back for her.
The Garden Centre was all pretty civilised to be honest: we all walked around very sensibly and coo-ed at all the nice, ridiculously priced things, including a picnic basket on wheels at a mere £149. Plants were selected with care and G. very maturely loaded up the trolley. Gor. aged 5, engrossed herself in smelling the more attractive plants – a bit like a bee who is drawn to the most colourful petals in the borders. And then even the coffee and cake bit went without event. Things did get a bit hairy when Gor. aged 5, noticed the playground but without an adult telling her to be careful and not to go on anything remotely dangerous, being able to do anything she wanted soon lost its appeal. And so it was off to Tesco’s and then home, James.
Obviously this couldn’t last. It was all too, well, ‘nice’ really. It started with a bit of light trolley racing: me and the trolley v. Gor. aged 5. I won. G. followed us at a decent distance unsure whether she was expected to join in, race after her little sister who was now only accompanied by a maniac masquerading as an adult or totally disown us in case someone from her school had spotted her out shopping, now seemingly on her own!
The trolley racing developed into some Olympic trolley spinning, (extra marks for not actually hitting a granny in the biscuit aisle) and a few more random sprints. To be honest, it wasn’t actually that bad., and G. did only have to make one apology on our behalf. Although when Gor. aged 5 tried to dig out one of the last bags of potatoes from the bottom of the potato bin, grabbing her little legs and chucking in on top of the potatoes was getting a bit silly. My instinct was to go for the phone and take a photo but meany G., who couldn’t actually believe her eyes for a minute, instinctively dived in and pulled her squealing little sister out as if she had been pushed into a bottomless watery pit or something. Fair play to Gor. aged 5, she did give it another go, not really expecting ‘a responsible adult’ to do again. So I did.
G. couldn’t take any more and ‘bailed’ on us, declaring she had too much homework to do to join in the planting session she demanded to be dropped off at home. And so off me and Gor. aged 5, dressed in white leggings, white trainers and a pretty peach dress went – back to my garden with a couple of dozen plants to dig in. In all fairness I did try to persuade Gor. aged 5 to roll up the leggings and remove the dress but the leggings got stuck by her knees and she was removing nothing.
We had the whole she-bang going on – a tub of dark compost, which was spilled on the lawn, carted by Gor. aged 5 from border to border, pot to pot; the hose pipe out, which Gor. aged 5 used to water in the plants in and spray me with. And then it poured down and we both got soaked. Gor. aged 5 rather sensibly insisted on going in but I stayed to fill the last couple of containers. And then it was 6 o’clock and E. was home from work. And we had tea and a rather bedraggled Gor. aged 5 was delivered home with brown and white leggings, brown and white trainers and a pretty dirty brown and peach dress. And a mouth surrounded with a ring of chocolate, soil and strawberry juice.
And so my marking and preparation simply didn’t happen this weekend. I unpacked my bag and my desk was immediately swimming in piles of unmarked papers and an empty planner page. That would have been manageable but then my internet connection died and all my back-up resources went with it. Then as the first class poured in I realised I needed to go to the loo. This was not an immediate problem but running out of the Action Plans they had to fill in was. After taking the register on the laptop in the classroom next door, I decided it would only take a couple of minutes to change the internet cable but that meant moving my desk closer to the internet socket and then all the other wires – millions of them – had to be moved too. And then the bell went and I hadn’t had a cuppa and I was starving and had to have my toast … and the internet still wasn’t working … and the next thing I know it is 12.10 and I’m supposed to going out to line up for assembly – only I need to find my keys and phone buried on my desk and the Year 8s have left loads of marked test papers on their desks, which simply can’t be left abandoned there … And it’s 12.14 and I really have to go to the loo now… And that is how I ended up late for the Assistant Headteacher’s assembly on Good Manners.