So here’s the thing. For the past year or so, I’ve been involved in an arrangement. A you-scratch-my-back-and-i’ll scratch-yours type of thing. In fact, I could easily go as far as to call it a relationship. A mutually beneficial, reciprocal kind of relationship, which saw its inception at the school gates. At first I was dubious, but after several rides, I was hooked. And so was She. Soon there was little alternative – we’d be lost without each other.
In short, it works like this: I do mornings and she does afternoons. I drop off and she picks up. I wake up at the crack of dawn, while she has the pleasure of luxuriously lazy lie-ins. I get to snuggle on the sofa for an extra hour, while she has to brave whatever havoc the weather decides to unleash at 3pm without fail every day. And did I forget to mention that it’s two for the price of one? The deal is, I get one and she gets two. It’s a small price to pay for a relationship abundant in advantage. The school rota – what’s not to love?
Admittedly, it did take some time to come to terms with the potentially awkward and/or damaging situations, that could arise whilst transporting someone else’s child in your vehicle:
- Being late.
- Being too early.
- Forgetting The Rota Child altogether.
- Embarrassing singing.
- Belching, farting or picking one’s nose in view of The Rota Child.
- Snotty noses, germs, vomit.
- Covert operations of competitive IQ testing.
- Rota child demanding that Rota Mum gives her a sweet baby sister too but settling on a smelly puppy instead….(sorry).
- Crashing the car.
- Driving under the influence of anything other than positive cheer and happy-clappy enthusiasm – and that includes on Monday mornings.
- Rota Mum threatening to deface your “For Sale” sign at the terrifying prospect of “No More Rota!”
But as soon as I was over the above caveats, I began to fully appreciate the sheer joy that came with a school rota, not to mention the unlimited perks. For some, a rota is a necessity in order to deliver their children to school at all. For others, it’s a luxurious life-style choice to lengthen their day and reduce their mileage. For us, it was a win-win. Why would we not choose to share our Precious Loads in this mutually convenient way? Or so I thought until one day. One day when the benefits became abundantly clear. One day when one of my Precious Loads requested that she’d rather have Rota Child’s Mum as her Mummy.
I had been rudely usurped.
For Goodness Sake, I’d invested in a 7-seater and a new born baby as distraction, purely for the privilege of sharing our Precious Loads. But how had I not considered that my children might favour the comfort of someone else’s car, that they might enjoy someone else’s taste in music or laugh at someone else’s jokes more than mine? How had I not anticipated that they might prefer someone else’s after-school snacks or someone else’s in-car entertainment? How had I not spotted the warning signs when they began to wake up with such glee on Rota Day and such misery on non-Rota Day? Rota club had become the highlight of their week, no – the highlight of their little lives. To the extent that now they even preferred someone else’s Gd’dam MUM.
Fact: Rota Mum’s exuberant personality and her tall, exotic stature had stolen the hearts of my two Terror Tots. She didn’t need to win them over to the next level, but somehow she had done just that. It must have been the 7.30am pre-school pancakes at her house one day, that did it. Perfect patties of gluten-free joy, flipped with skill, filled with Nutella and blueberries and freshly made to order. How can any child not succumb to such temptation? They may as well move out, move in and be done with it! But if truth be told, I’m not overly concerned. Since the pancake episode, my Precious Loads have adopted yet another step-mum (in the form of their favourite teacher) and new step-siblings too. Daddy’s new arranged marriage is going well and his adopted kids are settling in nicely. Meanwhile, the rota is still going strong. And since being relegated to the role of Parent Chauffeurs, Rota Mum and I have become the firmest of friends, as well as expert sodding pancake flippers.