Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mothering Test - On your marks for back to school

Forget Australia Day that falls on January 26th every year, there’s only one thing the last week of January means in Sydney – the start of the new school year and the crunch test for Mothers everywhere – the Back to School exam season. 

During the holiday season I kick back and relax, waggle my toes in the sand and reach for the sparkling Shiraz whilst congratulating myself on a relaxed attitude to bedtime and parenting in general.  But as in all good morality tales, retribution beckoned, this morning heralds the Back to School for Mothers test- fortunately only 2 Unit this year as one unit has taken itself off university bound.

Here is a general outline of the type of test that I sit and fail at the start of each year.  Feel free to tick the answers that you think are the most likely response in the house of chaos. Note I have designed it as a multiple test in order to give you at least a chance of scoring a correct answer.  

School blazers

Are they a) still at the cleaners necessitating my jumping up and down outside the shop gesticulating wildly at 7.30 a.m., b) at back of cupboard with interesting mould streaks (clothes in Sydney go mouldy as soon as you take your eyes off them, c) guaranteed not to fit, d) missing most of buttons and e) actually on close examination of the name tape, not belonging to my child at all?

Black school shoes

Are they a) scattered to the winds or b) adopting a trial separation and as a consequence shacking up with partner shoes of radically different sizes c) in a state that even at my most optimistic I would have to condemn as unwearable and d) yet again guaranteed not to fit.

School dress for Drama Queen No. 3
Is it a) discovered to have holes round the hem where some sibling has absent-mindedly used a hole punch during the hazy lazy last days of the previous school year b) either ankle length (she’ll grow) or c) now so short that Drama Queen No. 3 looks like she is auditioning for Playboy Pet of the Month

School book list
Was this a) tossed to bottom of filing pile in December b) subsequently discovered to contain new editions of siblings’ perfectly good old textbooks – (what’s with this new edition lark anyway? I’d like to reinvent myself every year but I don’t do so and then charge a minimum of $50 for the new me) and c) tainted by the realisation that those books that by some miracle have retained a shelf life of at least 2 years are guaranteed to contain sibling graffiti of the eye popping variety necessitating copious white out and pasted on grin whilst reassuring Drama Queen No.3 that graffiti covered books have a certain cool charm.

Packed lunch box

Is this a) Oh God, it’s still in the school bag – a prize to the person brave enough to prise off the top of the fermenting lunch – anyone fancy a sandwich marinated over 6 weeks in the sun? b) It’s lost but at least there is a certain charm in buying lunch boxes and stationery or c) frankly at this point the lunch box is the least of my worries.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ford is a four letter word in this household

I don’t have high standards when it comes to cars, witness the fact that I drive a Shrek green Ford Territory, however I do have the clear expectation that when I turn the ignition key the car starts with a degree of aplomb.  2013 was not therefore, getting off to a cracking start when I turned the key in the Shrek mobile and discovered that in doing so I had shut off air con, radio and the ability to open the windows thus turning the car into a travelling greenhouse given the current mini heat wave in Sydney, but more worryingly the total brake failure light was glowing red.

I am not an ignition novice.  An early romantic encounter with Husband involved him towing my non-starting car half way across London.  What he remembers most from that outing was the fact I interpreted his hand signal of “Keep the tension on the tow rope tight” as “Take your hands off the wheel”, and gaily waved my hands in the air to show I was following instructions, leading to some interesting road manoeuvres of the slaloming type and more amazingly the continuation of the relationship.

My most notable car non-starter was in the US.  Rescue came in the form of a burly man, heavy of beard and brow, clad in the type of lumberjack shirt that features in Most Wanted Ads.  His first move was to berate me for parking the car in a non-towable spot – I restrained myself from pointing out I didn’t usually park my car in my own driveway with towing it out in mind.  He then proceeded to ask if I had a hammer handy, I advanced towards him timorously holding a large claw hammer at arms length, whereupon he swung it and whacked the steering column and lo and behold the car started.

This time round the problem is apparently a spring in the ignition barrel.  This didn’t sound too serious, so I placed it in nuisance category along with pantry moths and sand in bottom of shower.  That was before the mechanic broke it to me that to replace the spring, they would have to replace the ignition barrel and to replace the barrel, they would have to replace the steering column – and like the old lady who swallowed the fly – the operation required to right the situation doesn’t come cheap.  The cheery response of the Ford Australia operative to whom I spoke, or actually spluttered, was that I wasn’t the first who had had this issue, and presumably the same four letter response, on being told I was looking at a four figure sum to sort the problem, and indeed when I checked the internet that was absolutely right - there are many other drivers who have discovered they are about to be charged over a thousand dollars to replace a minor part.

Jeremy Clarkson I’m not, but it seems totally ridiculous that to sort the car equivalent of an ingrown toenail you have to amputate the leg, but actually I don’t have time to argue the design ethics of the situation with the Ford, I’m off to fetch my hammer.