Back to school, back to school - three little words that have a profoundly pleasing effect on me, put a little extra skip into my step. I'm trying very hard to keep my enthusiasm for the Spring Term under wraps but it is tough, really tough.
Don't misunderstand me I love my children and I love Christmas but by the first week of January I have most definitely exhausted my role as Seasonal Family Events Manager and Co-ordinator. The season of goodwill is most firmly over for me and the bonhomie which I have radiated since about the third week in December is in danger of rather spectacularly disintegrating.
Matters came to a head this morning when my daughter, playing with her Christmas present, "Baby Annabell" (which I am incapable of saying normally, feeling compelled to mimic the irritating voice in the ad), handed me her little plastic darling and said in her "mummy" voice, "There you go, Annabell, go to Grandma,"....it took me a full 10 seconds to realise that I WAS GRANDMA. I was then left for 10 minutes holding this doll which cried, burped and babbled, with instructions from my 6 year old daughter to pat her on the back and soothe her by stroking her cheek. I did this whilst all the time mutinously muttering "Grandma!" under my breath. This is not OK. Sorry, Baby Annabell, but I am not your grandma and it is time your "mummy" went back to school.
For my boys the reasons school is beckoning are quite different - their surgical attachment to screen-based devices. I have some sympathy with Princess Diana's famous assertion "there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" - I feel the same about my relationship with my children - me, them and screens. I am slightly concerned that a return to school and the physical distance from screens will see them suffering from the sort of separation anxiety usually experienced by babies when their mother is out of sight. Despite the constant feeling of irritation which I have at their dependence on these devices, I have a sort of grudging admiration even fascination for how they move seamlessly from one screen device to another, seeking them out with pinpoint accuracy no matter where I have put them post-confiscation (a thrice daily occurrence). If only they could apply the same degree of focus and length of concentration to their school work...
Back to school also means no longer listening endlessly to two particular tunes which have been the soundtrack (inflicted not chosen) to my Christmas and New Year: Drake, "Hotline Bling" and Justin Bieber, "What do you mean". Two questions for you, Drake: What other than your cell phone was she going to call you on and when are you going to realise she is just not interested in you any more? As for you Bieber, welcome to the wonderful world of female indecision- it is our prerogative to change our minds whenever we want so if I were you I would stop asking what we mean and accept that you will probably never know. Give me Wham! And "Last Christmas" any day although even that has been ruined for me by my children's rendition: "Last Christmas I gave you my heart but the very next day you sold it on eBay". Sums it up really - extreme consumerism and an all-consuming reliance on technology.
So back to school they go and I get the opportunity to finish a cup of tea for the first time in several weeks, I get to regain control of my computer which has been regularly appropriated by little children (as a last resort screen when I have confiscated every other device in the house), I get to listen to what I want on the radio and sing loudly without being "embarrassing" and I don't have to come downstairs every morning ready to do battle with children who do not question the validity of dressing and washing during term time but for whom clothing (other than pyjamas) and general hygiene become an anathema during the holidays. One small fly in the ointment...it's only about 5 weeks until half term.