Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black Shoe Shuffle

Hands up if you’ve looked at your child’s school photo and made a point of checking out the shoes. Aside from obsessives and shoe tragics like me who’ve been up half the night looking for a pair of black shoes to strap onto child’s feet I don’t think most parents register footwear.

It’s photo day at school today, and DQ no.3 has trotted off almost unrecognisable in her school dress with a hair tied back into a ponytail. Please note that I’ve achieved the almost impossible on the hairdressing front, with no lumps and bumps marring the smooth ponytail. Just to digress – maybe I’m just loosing my memory but I don’t remember being worried about bumps in my hair as a child but it does seem to be a terror that reigns high in our house.

On a normal winter’s day, the girls at the DQ no.3’s primary school have an option of either a unisex outfit of shorts and polo shirt, or the more traditional tunic dress and long sleeve polo. I love my daughter in her dress and black tights, however needless to say maternal yearnings do not count in the life of a nine year old and she is a staunch devotee of shorts and polo shirt, regardless of weather and knobbly knees turning blue.

It is not actually the dress that causes the consternation on the three days a year when school dress is mandatory, after all this is my third girl at the school and I could probably kit out a dance team in barely worn dresses. The factor that throws the household into chaos is the black shoes that are deemed the essential accompaniment to the dress. Every other day of the school year she wears trainers and being fundamentally a mean Scot I prefer not to invest in a pair of black shoes for three annual outings.

As I don’t learn from experience, it dawns on me at precisely the same time, 9.30pm of the evening before photo day that we have a black shoe problem. The children morosely line up all the potential black shoes in the house and in scenes reminiscent of Cinderella’s Ugly Sisters, DQ no.3 shoves her feet into shoes that are patently too small or too large. I flap around making helpful comments about how she could stuff the toes or wear two pairs of socks as she mournfully trials cast off shoes belonging to an older sister that make her look like a comic character from Disney.

As with all good pantomimes there is always the same punch line, in my case the desperate ring round of friends to find some black shoes that might just fit. Based on the distinctly odd line up of black footwear on display at school today I wasn’t the only mother with the same problem. I think a black school shoe lending library has merit as an idea or alternatively a rule that all school photos cut off at knee level.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hurray for the hols

We are now into the last week of the holidays, and the Drama Queens and I have relaxed into a state of torpor. One of the perks of being a teacher is that I can justify all kinds of laid back behaviour on the grounds it is my holiday too. I reverted to my favourite teenage pastime yesterday, lying in the bath in the middle of the day, foot gently jammed against the hot tap, reading a gripping book until my skin went wrinkly and the concerned squeaks of the Drama Queens who feared I was suffering some kind of nervous breakdown, became too loud to be ignored. It was absolute bliss and I resolved I must do it more often.

Husband is still gripped by home improvement fever, I do not regard it as a promising sign that I have somehow mysteriously signed up to a number of Australian homes and gardens magazines who are now emailing me on a daily basis. He painted part of the kitchen at the weekend and I have to say it looks fantastic. It is unfortunate the DQ no. 3 has written to both sets of grandparents setting out in a chatty fashion her overview of the past couple of weeks in the household – in summary she points out that “Poor Daddy is still at work but is also very busy painting things, everyone has jobs to do in the house apart from Mummy who is catching up with friends and having lunch and dinner”. Was very tempted to take out red felt tip pen and heavily censor this gross libel, or else add in a few points of my own in heavily disguised nine year old writing.

One of the downside of the parental painting frenzy is that the children have got in on the act and have been painting a number of slabs of wood. We have a multitude of tester paints in the shed owing to our fundamental inability to decide between hot pink and cool blue and everything in between as shades for each room and the girls have allowed themselves free rein on the artistic front. As a by product we now have an interesting array of footprints in different colours across the tiles and the dog is sporting a rather dashing lavender blue patch which has proved remarkably resistant to both brushing and immersion in sea water.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carpet cleaning for romantic heroes

I have just been in the family bathroom, pondering the question of why there are tufts of black hair all over the floor. Given we are a family of blondes, tasteful blonde to disguise grey for me, platinum blonde in homage to Marilyn Monroe for DQ no.1, actually more grey than blonde for Simon and natural blonde in DQ no.2 and 3’s case the only candidate for the black strands is the dog. I do have a vague memory of DQ no.3 saying she was going to groom the dog and I am now making a mental note to check my hairbrush for tell tale black hairs as a certain nasty suspicion comes upon me.

One of the downsides of being married to Mr Activity is that when it rains and he is housebound there is a roughly ten minute period during which time I can distract him with the idea of a cup of coffee and a look at the papers and then he is off on the hunt for a major household project. As I am by nature incredibly indolent and have a fairly relaxed attitude to housekeeping (feel free to insert your own appropriate adjectives here) these bursts of frenzy never augur well. Sure enough within minutes of waking to a wet Saturday, he was muttering about the dubious stains on the carpets. I immediately denied all knowledge of the origin of these marks whilst simultaneously mentally cataloguing nail polish remover, dog, coffee, craft glue, blue tack and felt tip. Simon fired with the enthusiasm that is one of his most endearing characteristics, set off for the local superstore to hire a carpet cleaner, whilst I stomped behind in a sulky silence designed to convey that a morning spent in a pool of frothing bubbles was not my idea of marital bonding. However despite myself I did get into the whole thing and there was a revolting satisfaction watching the coal black liquid disgorge from the machine. Fortunately most of the downstairs of the house is wood floors and it is only really the DQs’ rooms upstairs that are carpeted – having all their possessions dumped on top of their beds by their Desperate Housewife of a father gave them the impetus to sort their rooms and in fact if anyone would care to drop by I can give you a rare tour of a perfect Homes and Gardens set of children’s rooms – but make it snappy I can’t guarantee this level of perfection for long.

One of the many things I love about having children is the opportunity it gives you to read and reread children’s books. As a family we’ve loved Harry Potter and are moving towards the Vampire tales of love and longing – summarised by one of DQ no 1’s 15 year old male friends as ‘Edward loves Bella, Bella loves Edward, and Edward wants to eat Bella’. I am currently wallowing in Noel Streatfield, Lynne Reid Banks and the K M Peyton Pennington and Team series. K M Peyton in particular has a nice line in moody, teenage male heroes who entranced me as a teenager. As I write this I am pondering the paradox that were DQ no.1 to appear home with one of these interesting teenage rebels I would immediately move into the protective mode and push her hastily towards the nearest, nice, calm, fits the mould, type boy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

These boots are made for....?

The good news is that Simon has returned from his two week overseas trip; the bad news is that the dog, who has been relatively well behaved in his absence, decided to celebrate the return of the Alpha male by digging a monster hole in the lawn. It was slightly unfortunate that I hadn’t spotted the excavations before I went to the airport as I could perhaps have camouflaged it or at least shovelled some of the earth back in. As it was the first thing that greeted Simon as he wandered into the back garden was the sight of the Pluto sitting triumphantly on an earthen mound. All thoughts of a happy homecoming vanished as Simon pursued the black fiend round the garden with murder in his heart.

I have been looking for a pair of boots for ages and once I had managed to stop Simon phoning vets and enquiring how much for the canine one way ticket to the sky, we wandered up round our local market and then finding ourselves outside a shoe shop went in. I should perhaps explain that we have slightly different ideas on the ideal pair of boots – views that perhaps could be characterised as male/female. Simon tends to favour thigh length and gleaming black in the Pussy Galore, Bond Girl mode, whereas I point out that a) I would look more like Puss in Boots in such a get up and b) I would like to be able to wear the boots to do normal things like school pick up rather than constantly looking as if I am on my way to an S & M bondage party.

We had DQ no.1 with us and whilst the trip was a success in that I did find and buy a pair of boots that we all liked, it was unfortunate that as I rolled up my trousers to try them on, both Simon and DQ no.1 said simultaneously and loudly “My God, you’ve got hairy legs”. Needless to say the entire shop came to a halt and turned to peer at Bison Woman trying on her boots. The only thing I can say in my defence is that I had to cancel the leg waxing appointment because I was working in the school canteen.

Apart from the fact it left me with legs that could compete with the dog on the hairy front, (perhaps I’ll start digging holes to get attention), I love doing canteen duty. As the recess bell rings the counter is deluged with small faces peering over, and up at the counter and mouthing their orders. I find it very endearing the way in which small children push 50 cents towards you whilst hopefully reciting the list of goods they would like to purchase, which generally total about $2.50. A lengthy process of negotiation then follows where I try gently to match monetary total and ambition.

On the monetary front I have just been listening to an advert on the radio where it was suggested the way to financial success was to “learn how to trade foreign exchange”. Apparently all you need to get started is a computer, a phone line and access to the company’s handy tips and your money worries will be a thing of the past. It felt almost immoral to me – along the lines of “short of cash, try your luck at the casino” or “need some money, take up betting”. However before I sound too pious on this one, let’s just remember who was pinning their hopes on winning the lottery last week.