Blessed are the Tories, theirs is The United Kingdom.
Blessed are the Bankers, for theirs is a big fat bonus.
Blessed are the Rich, for theirs is no longer 50p in the Pound.
Blessed are the Super Rich, theirs is called tax avoidance.
Blessed are the Frontbenchers, there lies the problem.
Blessed are the Lords, for there will be no reforms.
Blessed are the Rockstars, they will have titles bestowed upon them.
Blessed are the Royals, theirs is the Civil List.
Blessed are the Media, for in their hands the truth lies.
Silently I was crying inside. But my son’s entourage was an unusually welcomed distraction, deflecting from the highly anticipated event, the first day of school.
No wonder my son looked slightly on edge, with so much build up. I think he was starting to believe that we were giving him to the Missions. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve said goodbye, but for some reason, this one magnifies that this is the first of many to come.
We all know the stories, but when it’s your own story, it’s raw. And I felt alone.
Well, I would have if my over-the-top, noisy, Italian, and brash father-in-law had allowed me to lament in the moment. But no, he was a running commentator on the day’s event and how my emotions were stacking up. My mother was adding some realism, years of experience as a school teacher; my husband was nonchalant; my mother-in-law was reminded of her boy starting school, but was on a strict warning not to cry, so she looked like she’d sucked a few lemons, straining to hold it together. The circus ensued with the little brother pleading to join the big one. And after a few poses for Facebook, show’s over, and it’s time for school.
In his hand, he held my heart. And we walked on.
I was more nervous than he. Schools do that to you. He hardly spoke, but I knew he was assessing the situation. He does this. And all I wish, is that his teachers get to know him like I do. I haven’t totally lost my sense of reason, he’s still a five year old. I’d have thrown him through the doors when he was two, when the thought of Boarding School didn’t seem so bad, but not today. He is perfect and I won’t be told otherwise.
In my state of delusion, we made it through the grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and the flash photography. But I saw no one. So consumed by holding his hand and steering him through. There may have been tears and tantrums but we walked silently on.
My nerves grew. I wanted the transition to pass seamlessly. Because you see, I thought he was starting next week and today wasn’t the day for my son to realise that his mother’s still looking for the parenting handbook.
My fly by the seat of your pants approach suits me, but my son needs everything just so. I had to step up and make him as proud of me as I am of him. Ok I got off to a bumpy start, wrong class. Though, I was sure it was that one. The relief when I found his peg and hung up his jacket. If I could have ripped the thing off the wall, I think I would have. I was raw.
Never have I felt so happy yet so sad.
But there were no tears. I wouldn’t do that to him, I had the rest of the afternoon after all.
And as I’d expected he turned and I let him go. To make new friends, have good days and bad days, dreams and disappointments, and to start making stories of his own.
I want time to stand still,
I want the world to know,
I’m waiting for love and you’ve yet to show.
Wrapped in a blanket, safe in my arms, this is how I imagine you.
From the first cry, love has arrived.
Skin to skin and we begin,
My child and I.
It’s not the badge that you wear,
Nor the scroll that you hold,
It’s calling him a star,
It’s who you are.
It’s the time that you give,
The love that you bring,
The heart that you show,
The pain that you hide.
It’s every day that you’re there,
It’s his eyes at your name,
It’s the void that you fill,
When I’m not there.
As I boarded the train today with a neighbour and colleague, another 9-5 in front of me. Black shoes, black dress, brown bag, I know next month? All adding up to a mortgage and after school care and lots of todos. Talking about some work things, some moaning things, texting, liking; it’s not rude, it’s work, and I drifted in and out of the conversation, mind elsewhere, really anywhere. Stepping off, my companions started to sprint. It’s the morning and I’m still coming to. Had I not been listening when we decided to race? Love races, any kind really, or lets just have a chase, in Central with my equally trapped companions. It’s not just me. There really wasn’t time for thoughts. We are racing down the platform. It’s 8:30 and its a full blown mummy and daddy sports day race. Those two sneaks, but I can still take them. Swinging my bag as a weapon, I began taking bodies, leaping, cutting inside a few suits in a sea of badly cut cloth, swiping a few and running pretty close to the inside on platform 7. The barriers are always a stumbling block but I chose well and I was first, turning in triumph to parade my victory. The neighbours were nowhere to be seen, surely they couldn’t have beaten me. I was practically pushing people on the track, they couldn’t have. Nowhere to be seen, as they were queued in a long line of passengers without a ticket for the new non-workable barriers. So, there wasn’t a race. And we’re going exactly where we were going before, to work, for 8 hours. To pay for the football lessons, the swimming lessons, the shoes, the parties, the presents for the parties, racing to answer the cc’d email that’s blatantly telling on me, and in eight hours I will be racing to make the train to take the wee fella to the football classes I’ve worked to pay for, but there will be no platform races today or any other as I joined the rat race…
Not content with conquering the business world. Done with the dinner parties and wine bars, avoiding questions of marriage and notions of babies. Until now.
Striding past me in their beige perfect pram occupied by one.
I, a few years down the line, stagger past with my buggy weighed down with jackets, plastic bags and anything I’ve managed to pick up along the way.
Passed the brasseries and quaint little pubs, I prefer to picnic in large open spaces where people are few.
Off to the park for some respite and to gather with equally stressed, sleep deprived and irate parents. There’s a reason for stereotypes and cliches. And if you don’t fit this bill, then you have a nanny or hired help of some kind. We’re all watching over our precious offsprings and glaring at one another, it’s territorial.
Stepping across the boundary and into the playpark, the babes are off in hot pursuit of a swing or a sea-saw, stamping their authority among their kind. Darwin’s theory played out.
Princes and princesses, one or two precocious parents and we’re all fenced in. We’re in one of Nappy Valley’s favourite haunts. There’s lots of oohing and ahhing and niceties. It’s very child focused. Well, it is a park. I’m eyeing up the coffee stand.
Hot on the heels of my little cubs, ready to diffuse potential situations, and it isn’t long before there is a situation at the sea-saw. A coveted apparatus. There’s a child parked on one side and my five-year old is tipping the balance to the other side, as one might expect.
It’s a tandem made for two. Not in these parts. Speaking through the medium of her child, the mother is purporting that there’s a big boy on the other side.
“Hello, I’m right here.”
“Just wait a moment until the big boy gets off and you can have your shot.” But sea-saws require two in our parts.
Rising above my patronising and selfish opponent, I too embrace the medium of my child to strike back.
“He’s just a little boy, be gentle. He’ll be off in a minute. Just give him a little shot.”
Parks are precarious places, if it’s not dogs it’s kids.
We each place our hands on the opposing sides of the sea-saw, without making eye contact and the games begin.
“That’s it, up and down, each waiting for the other to crack.”
Total glee as my opponent’s offspring throws the first tantrum. Ha ha, your brat’s not sharing. I’m quite simply delighted and I think I’m smirking.
It could have gone either way, it was touch and go for a moment as I thought my five-year old was about to start. But he didn’t let the side down. Ice-cream all round.
The shrieking continues as the boy is scraped off the sea-saw, howling as he goes. He’s not for budging as I watch on in total amusement.
His hands are being pried off by his mother who’s obviously annoyed about the architectural concept of a sea-saw and the notion that it requires two.
Ready in the wings is my three year old, rubbing salt in the wounds by hopping on.
The dad’s back and they are both pleading for calm. It’s a spectacle. Arms flying and legs kicking, I’ve been on the receiving end but today I’m the spectator.
And it feels naughty, even childish, but oh so good.