It's Mothers Day on Sunday, so this week brought the annual joy of self esteem-sapping homeworks. How could I have forgotten? Or maybe I just blocked it out?
Rory's involved three sentences on 'Things I like to do with my Mummy'. Not too hard surely? I sighed inwardly as I looked at his blank little face, and the inevitable prompting began.
'What do we like to do together Rory? How about listening to stories? Do you like it when I read to you?'
'Wellllll, Daddy usually does that. Can I include him?'
'No you can't.' I snapped, stung. 'Its about Mummy, not Daddy. He reads to you because I'm reading Harry Potter to Cormac or bathing Luke, and you can write ALL about him on Fathers'Day'. (And for the record, I don't recall HIM pushing your inordinately large head into the world without pain relief.)
Jude stepped in at that point, possibly sensing a rise in frustration levels.
' How about making pancakes, Rory? You loved making pancakes with Mummy on Pancake Tuesday?'
I nodded gratefully, determinedly ignoring the fact that I had used a powdered Betty Crocker mix, and his sole participation involved shaking a plastic container as vigorously as he could. But he decided to run with that one, and another about going to the park, (even though it's been a while), and then, his eyes lit up, 'I know, Mummy!'
'Yes, Rory?', (trying not to sound TOO eager but mentally punching the air.)
'What about you bringing me to Funderland? I LOVED doing that!' Oh, the innocent cruelty of a six year old.
'But Rory, that wasn't me. That was Auntie Mary.'
'Oh!' A pause. 'Well, what about a funfair? I'd love to go there! Or Toys R Us?'
'NO! It has to be places that we've been to, not places you just want to go.' He was either missing the point entirely or very cunningly playing on my insecurity in a clever attempt to nail down future expeditions.
It only went downhill from there. Cormac had to 'interview' me, (and I use that term in the loosest possible sense), over the course of two nights. The first night involved describing what I looked like- a no brainer, you might think? So, I smiled my most winning mummy smile and prompted encouragingly,
'Well, Cormac- what does mummy look like?' I'm not ashamed to admit that I was quietly hoping for 'pretty' but, after an entire minute of scrutinizing my face, all he could come up with was 'You have ginger eyebrows'. End of.
Only slightly put off, I explained that his teacher might possibly be looking for a little more description so he had another good look. 'Errrm. your hair is ginger like your eyebrows..' (Enough about the eyebrows already. Who am I? Chris de Burgh? )
'What else Cormac? What about my eyes? What colour are they?'
'Emmmmmmmmmmm, blue.' And so it continued in this vein for what seemed like hours. Blood. From. A. Stone. Eventually it was done, and except for the eyebrows, I can honestly say that Cormac did not offer a single, original or unprompted observation.
So my expectations were somewhat modified as we got cracking on 'My Mummy' Part Deux last night. This, rather optimistically, requested several paragraphs on 'Mummy's Job, Interests, Talents, Likes and Dislikes'. *laughs hysterically* After 15 minutes of deep thought, the only interest of mine that he could come up with was 'going on Facebook'.
'You're not putting that in. It's not true anyway. What about music? Or my blog? Or Bookclub? Or taking Children's Liturgy? Or shoes? You KNOW that Mummy loves shoes'.
'Oh yeah. I forgot about all those.' And so on.
'What job do I do then?'
'But, you don't have a job!'
'Well, my job is looking after the five of you! Do you think I just sit and read magazines all day?' I asked him jovially. He didn't get the joke.
'I don't know. Do you?'
'No, I bloody don't. Do you know that Mummy has a BSc , a PGCE and an MA? With distinction, I might add!!' In retrospect, and judging by the alarmed expression on Cormacs face, this may possibly have been a little shrill. Offer it up.
'Alright then, just put down there that I used to be a teacher.'
The end was in sight. Thank God. It was-'Write about why your Mummy is special.' So determined to end on a high, I said with a breezy 'I could tell you all about why I'm special, Cormac', (giggle giggle), 'but you have to write this bit yourself. Come on now, really try hard.'
He scratched his chin. 'Emmmmm. I can't really think of anything. Let me see, you make our dinner and you look after us.'
'Yeeeeessssss I do. Anything else, though? Really think hard about why I'm special now'. By now, a distinct note of desperation has crept into my voice.
'Okay.' Deep in thought. 'I know!!!!' ' You pay for the oil!', he said triumphantly.
Well no, I don't as it happens, because I don't have a job, you see...but I didn't tell him that. I just smiled sweetly, while inwardly I crashed and burned. And if it hadn't been four o'clock, and I still had school runs and homework and dinner to do, then this ginger eye browed, Jeremy Kyle watching, jobless Facebook fanatic would have poured herself a very large glass of wine.