Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Morning has broken. Me.

     I wish I was The Boy. No, honestly, I do. Instead of being my cynical, sarcastic, unimpressed self, I wish I could wake up every weekday morning in the same mood that he does. Instead of rolling out of bed, grumpy, underslept, and already fed up, I wish I could greet the start of every day in his own unique fashion. Every day is a new, unexplored box of mystery, waiting to be unpacked. What will the day bring? What will happen today? Who knows where the path will lead? It is Monday morning! What new delights await me?

     Seriously, it’s amazing. He’s ten years old, he’s been going to school now for nearly a full six years. And yet… every school morning, it’s as though this is a brand new experience, unheard of, undreamt of, a constant reel of surprises. What’s even more impressive is that The Girl, only in Year 2, has lost this capacity, and yet her brother remains stunned by the daily routine.

     The Girl’s morning goes something like this: Get up at some ridiculous eyewateringly early hour. Shout at me for breakfast until I give up ignoring her. Whilst waiting for me to make toast, get dressed in the clothes I laid out the night before. Eats breakfast. Reads a book. Puts shoes on. Gathers school stuff. Leaves.

     The Boy, however, shuns such mundane and predictable routines. What is life for, if not for rollercoaster adventure? For white knuckle rides, and crashes of emotion? Live a little! By contrast, his mornings vary, but the overall narrative arc remains the same.

     Seven o’clock. Alistair and I are up, barely functioning, but out of bed, shuffling around the kitchen and making coffee. Alistair goes up to shower, and gently shakes The Boy’s shoulder ‘Darling? Time to wake up.’ The Boy responds with a sound that suggests we have constructed a Wicker Man and filled it with everything he has ever held dear. Alistair showers, gets dressed, leaves for work.

     Half past seven. I am showered and dressed. ‘The Boy? Darling? Darliiiiiing? It’s half past seven sweetheart. Time to get up.’ A noise, perhaps best described as ‘GNARRRRRRGHHHOHHH’ rumbles from under the duvet. I spend several minutes lacing up my boots before returning to the scene. ‘The Boy? Come on, you need to get up now.’ There is silence. A visual check confirms that the Boy has gone back to sleep. It is now quarter to eight. ‘The BOY! Come on! You need to get up! School today!’ He stirs. His first words, upon greeting the glorious new day that has broken ‘Alright! JESUS! I’m getting up!’ He remains in bed. I stand over him. ‘WHAT? I’m GETTING UP.’ ‘No you’re not.’ His response to this is to rub his cheek against the pillow, make a comforting ‘mmmm’ noise to himself, and then extend his arms ‘Mummy? Cuddle?’ I bestow a cuddle, and then stand back. ‘Are you getting up now?’ ‘Yes. Can I have a cup of tea?’

     It is now eight o’clock. A cup of tea has been made. ‘The Boy?’ Silence. ‘THE BOY?’ THE. BOYYYYYYYYYYY.’ There are noises, suggesting that The Boy has got up. Or perhaps a manatee is attempting to take a crash course in tap dancing on the landing. Around three minutes later, a sullen ten year old male child galumphs grumpily into the living room. The effort required to complete this task means a full physical collapse onto a sofa is deemed necessary. ‘The Boy! It’s nearly ten past eight! You need to get dressed!’ ‘A pale, wan voice, better suited to a querulous academic in his eighties, is heard ‘Where are my clooooooothes?’ ‘ON THE BLOODY CHAIR WHERE I PUT THEM LAST NIGHT’. For my efforts, I receive a pleading, hurt face, and mutter to myself in an undertone ‘oafuhfuxake…’ Go upstairs, retrieve clothes, bring them back down, place on sofa next to the Child of Woe, and resume getting lunchboxes prepared, swimming and PE kits together, checking that The Girl has everything she needs in her bag. As I walk past the living room door I call out cheerfully ‘Five minutes Blondi… WHY AREN’T YOU DRESSED YET?’

     The Boy is standing, completely starkers, scratching his stomach absentmindedly, a faraway look on his face. My howl of outrage pierces whatever distant galaxy he currently inhabits and he proffers me the socks I had thoughtfully provided him with ‘Mum? Mum? Mum? Do we have any other clean socks Mum? It’s just that these are like, really hard to put on, and they’re quite tight, and I’ve got swimming today, and it’s, like…’ To my eternal, maternal shame, I swipe the socks from his paw, run upstairs, return them to his sock drawer, select another pair of socks more suitable to beginner level, run back downstairs, and hand them over ‘…and it’d just take too much time, and I’d be feeling really stressed out about putting them back on…’

     He’s still standing completely naked in the living room, having made no effort to dress himself in any way. ‘WE NEED TO LEAVE IN TWO MINUTES. GET DRESSED. GET DRESSED. GET DRESSED. GETDRESSSSSSSSED.’ Infuriatingly, The Boy adopts a hurt look, and yelps ‘Sorry!’ as though he’s accidentally punched me in the face. I drop my shoulders, exhale heavily, and give him A Look. ‘Oh yeah, sorry, I’ll get dressed now.’

     In order to be at school on time, we need to leave the house at twenty past eight. It is 08:19. The Girl is waiting at the front door, immaculately attired, coat and shoes on, schoolbag on her back. The Boy… is slumped on the sofa. I bark ‘SHOES!’ at him. ‘Where are my shoes?’ Somehow, without swearing, I suggest his shoes are likely to be in the place WHERE YOU LAST LEFT THEM FOR CHRIST’S SAKE.  A full five minutes passes, during which time school shoes are located, and agonisingly, painstakingly donned. By this point I’m hopping from foot to foot by the front door, uttering a chant of ‘come on come on come on we’re going to be late come on come on WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?’

     ‘I need to fill in my reading record. Um. What have I read? Hmm… what. Have. I. Read… Ooh. I know! Oh. No, wait. That was the other week. Hmm…’


     ‘But I have to hand in my reading record. Can’t find my pen….’ He ferrets, unproductively in his bag, for what feels like several days. Wordlessly, I hand him the stub of a pencil. Tongue sticking out, he carefully, s-l-o-w-l-y, fills in five days’ worth of reading. Then ‘You need to sign it, Mum.’ I just about manage to resist the urge to draw a massive speedcock in the box allocated for parental signatures, and shove the reading record in his bag. ‘Alright! Jesus, Mum, someone got out of the wrong side of bed!’ An odd, not unfamiliar, sense of boiling frustration fills me. I avoid looking at my precious first born to prevent the simmering from erupting.

     ‘O-kay! Ska vi ga!’

     ‘Mum? Where’s my hoody?’

     ‘Which. Hoody. Do. You. Mean. You have at least five.’

     ‘The one that I normally wear. Y’know… the um. The one that… I think it might have been you and Dad got it for me? It’s…’


     As I speak, I unlock the front door, The Girl steps outside, and we stand as The Boy wrestles fruitlessly with the final article of clothing. ‘Tsk’ he smiles. ‘Tried to put it on over my bag.’ Unable to multitask, he has stopped attempting to put on his jacket or remove his bag to provide his crucial piece of commentary. Never having really been a footstamper before, I can now empathise really quite sincerely with Rumpelstiltskin. I am beyond words. Instead, I do the universal gesture of despair, mixed with frustration, annoyance, and JUST GET A FUCKING MOVE ON that is holding up both hands, palms facing me, fingers splayed, accompanied by a face that would curdle milk. ‘Oh, yeah.’

     And then, having pushed me beyond the bounds of decency, to the point that I’m seriously considering homeschooling because I can’t face yet another bloody morning like this… he’s ready, and bounces alongside me for the full twenty minute walk to school, chatting away happily as though none of this ever happened.

     And the final, killer, suckerpunch, as I drop him off... 'Love you, Mum. Sorry I was late getting up. Bye!'


Karen @TalesofaTwinMum said...

Haha this is possibly the best and most realistic thing I've ever read. Although I'll admit to being a bit scared now - I'd kinda hoped my 5yo twin boys were going to grow out of this pretty soonish. You've summed up my mornings perfectly apart from the fact my boys wake up on their own at 6.15am yet still manage to struggle to eat breakfast and get dressed before 8am. At least you've given me hope for my 2yo daughter. Thanks for making me laugh. I'm off to share this with some other sympathetic mums who also have sons.

Compulsive Cook said...

Oh no! My son is 4 and already I can tell that every single morning of his entire school life is going to be like this. Maybe I should just accept he's never going to be independent and continue feeding him and dressing him etc until he graduates. It would probably be less stressful and certainly be quicker.

Alison Bloomer said...

This is like my mornings - how we get to school every day I don't know. Stunned by the daily routine is genius x

Lucy Benedict said...

It is bringing me great comfort to know I'm not alone! I think my most overused phrase at the moment is 'We do this every day! Why does it come as such a surprise to you???'

Beth@mayhemmuddles said...

Love this! In our house - it's i'm just having a little relax before I get up... WHAT?! You've just slept for 13 hours!!!

Jules said...

Add a 9yo girl to the boy and this is my house. My 11yo daughter is fine, the 9yo and 5yo however regularly have me fuming!

Anonymous said...

This very morning, I decided that I am going to re-introduce a reward chart, as if they were still pre-schoolers. As I said to my 9yo and 7yo (both girls) on the way to school this morning (after a frustrating Groundhog Day-style litany of instructions repeated ad nauseam), we have been doing this for FIVE YEARS now, why do they need to be reminded? So am printing out a tick chart and am just going to point wordlessly at the next activity that needs to be done. Maybe I'll even given them stickers. Upshot - You Are Not Alone!

Lucy Benedict said...

I do love that so many other parents go through the same routine of shouting their way through the morning routine... ;-)

One positive of it is that we are very definitely awake when we finally leave the house... even if our children aren't.

Lucy Benedict said...

Oh, and if it makes people feel any better, The Boy did once go to school with his pyjamas still on underneath his uniform because he 'forgot' to get undressed. I didn't realise until I went to pick him up!

Jenny @ The Brick Castle said...

That's ace. Laughed until the wet came out of my eyes. Such a brilliant account of every one of my days for the last (heaven help us) 17 years. Only another 11 and I'm done! :D

Anonymous said...

Now that really made me chuckle I have a year 2 and reception and this is my morning every morning too.. Except my son doesn't apologise or go.in happily. You have just shattered my hope it will get better!

JANE Owen said...

God help you when he's 16... mind you he may have discovered the opposite sex by then and be up and showered. Mine however, go to a boys school so being clean still isn't a priority... Roll on college!

Rebeccah Rothwell said...

This made me LAUGH out loud, really really FUNNY! I've been there, seen that, done it...I have an 8 y.o. who is always ready and a 10 y.o. who stays up late at night but cannot get out of bed in the morning. This used to be a stressful experience, but since I live in a safe country (not the UK) and 5 minutes from the school, she is now on her own. All I do is put breakfast on the table, a snack in her bag (break means a snack but they have lunch at 1.30) and holler the time. I holler at 8.15, again at 8.30, finally at 8.45 I holler that this is THE last chance to arrive on time. Somehow, amazingly, at 8.58 when I have already ushered boy across the road and waved as he walks along the path to school, girl suddenly appears. She even looks beautiful as she goes on her way. She lives in a world of her own where neither day nor time have any importance but somehow she gets to school each day. The teacher reports that she is never late, just the last one in the classroom each day.

Jackie Cr said...

Yep, I have a pretty similar situation every morning! Only for me there's no effective girl, just dawdling 5 and 7 year old boys! They do get up at 6am, but take forever to get dressed. Lego seems so much more exciting to them!

pollie math said...

im going to bed a happier woman, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow's drama in my house will be being repeated . thankyou.

pollie math said...

im going to bed a happier woman, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow's drama in my house will be being repeated . thankyou.