Flea is now 11. So it stands to reason that literally EVERYTHING I say and do is embarrassing these days.
“You don’t have to get out of the car at school, you know,” she says to me. Except on the days she’s feeling nervous, when I’m required to get out of the car.
I’m never sure which sort of a day it is, so on any given morning, I’m usually doing the wrong thing. I’m very much looking forward to next week, when she starts cycling to school herself.
But it’s all good. She’s growing up, and in a new environment, and I completely get that desire to fit in, to look like any other senior school kid.
I can still remember the mortification of my Dad’s habit of singing in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET while we were shopping.
Or that I was a pretty small 11 year old and I started senior school in a coat from Mothercare because Mum said I was too small to go to Chelsea Girl. It was a gaberdine raincoat and everyone said I looked like Inspector Gadget. I was called Gadget pretty much every day for the next five years.
So I wait in the car. I brush my hair, and wear something decent on the school run. I wait quietly while she’s doing hockey practice and don’t jump up and down shouting, “GOOD SAVE, CHILD OF MINE!!”
Not on the outside, at any rate.
Of course, like most things any parent thinks they’ve got completely sussed, eventually it’s all going to go horribly wrong.
Today, Flea needed to check on the timings of a match she’s playing in this weekend. It’s all a long, complicated story but basically we’re going away this weekend, we’ll need to nip home for the match, so I need to know where and when it is. So I asked her to call me from school with the information.
Kids’ phones have to be turned off at school, so she’d need to go into the office and call from there.
“Call me after morning registration and let me know!” I reminded Flea this morning (while sitting in the car and pretending I don’t exist, naturally).
Because of work, I missed Flea’s call. This led to the world’s most helpful voicemail ever. (“Hey Mum, it’s Flea, I was going to tell you the match times but you’re not there. So… call me back. Except my phone’s off. Bye!”)
Fortunately Flea called back at lunchtime, with the start time and location of the match. Flea wasn’t sure of the finishing time but I told her not to worry, we’d work that out later.
“Okay, baby, I’ll see you later. Love you!” I said.
There was a long pause.
“Are you still there, Flea?”
“I. Just Had. The. Phone. On. Speaker.” my child croaked, in a very small voice.
I think tonight might be one of the days when I need to stay in the car.