Regular readers of this blog (so, my Mum and my stalker) will know that I consider myself something of a parenting role model.
There was that time I failed to recognise Flea in her school photo, for example, or the day when I realised she’d been wearing spaghetti sauce on her uniform for pretty much an entire week. And let’s not pass up an opportunity to talk about the time I punched Flea in the face.
Today, I added to this list of highlights with perhaps my greatest achievement to date: causing a full-scale security alert at Flea’s school. Let me begin by just explaining some crucial excuses mitigating factors:
- I have a head cold. I don’t cope well with illness at the best of times.
- I went to the dentist today which, given my tooth phobia, is always a difficult time for me, emotionally
Those facts established, I should also mention that post-dentist, groggy from painkillers, I took a short nap.
I woke with a start at 4.40pm and realised – HOLY CRAP! – I hadn’t yet collected Flea from school. Flea’s school late room finishes at 5pm, and the school is about 7 miles from our house. So I raced down to the garage, jumped in the car and drove to school.
As I parked up I looked at the clock on the dashboard – 4.55pm. Phew. My phone was vibrating in my pocket, but I decided to ignore it – after all, I didn’t want Flea to be worrying about where I was, did I? See? I'm such a great Mummy.
I walked to the school and rang the bell, to be greeted by one of my favourite teachers there, Mrs R. She smiled and let me in, but then looked a bit confused. “I don’t think we have Flea today, do we?”
“Well, I don’t know where else she’d be!” I laugh.
I can see Mrs R thinking fast, and she decides Flea must be in the playground where she’s been overlooked by the teacher in charge. We walk through the school to the rear playground – no sign of Flea.
Another teacher is summoned. She hasn’t seen Flea either.
This is starting to get worrying. I wrack my brains, wondering if Flea’s Dad might have collected her. But I spoke with him earlier in the day and he didn’t mention anything. Could he have just turned up and collected her? I start thinking of how I will torture him if he has done something like this.
Registers are checked. Flea’s name isn’t on them. This means she left school before late room started – so at the usual pick-up time.
Someone remembers that the teaching assistant from Flea’s class is still on the premises. She should know who collected Flea. Mrs R and Mrs H, the two teachers running late room, both look horribly upset. I'm still thinking of how I'm going to kill my ex when I get my hands on him.
My phone is still vibrating in my pocket, indicating I’ve got a message, but I ignore it.
I see the teaching assistant hurrying over to the late room, accompanied by the school groundsman and the head of the infant school. Just as they reach us, a terrible thought occurs to me.
“Is today Thursday?”
Everyone looks at me. Mrs R speaks first. “Yes. It’s Thursday.”
Every Thursday for the past two years my Mum has collected Flea from school and taken her out for tea with her cousins. Then she drops Flea off at my brother’s house, where I collect her and take her home.
I explain this to the gathered teachers, who (to their credit) all reassure me and lie that this is a perfectly understandable mistake and they’re just glad they haven’t mislaid my first-born.
As I return to my car, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, I look at my phone to see a text message from my Mum. “Do you want me to drop Flea home if you’re still working?”
So, the lesson we can take away from this sorry experience?
Check your text messages BEFORE causing a full-scale security alert at your child’s school.