It would be fine if I was comfortable with minor failure, with 'just about good enough'. But my inner joyless harridan and overachiever wants it all to be PERFECT. We control what we can, I suppose, when other things are chaos, and I like to sharpen the pencils and put the right things in the right envelope on the right day. The gulag always manages to outsmart me though, blind-siding me with a last minute demand for 17 used stamps and a 3 metre length of unpatterned oilcloth. I am very relieved the weekend is coming and we can revert to our natural state of lying around watching Steve Backshaw over-enthuse at wildlife and eating crisps and ignoring each other. Though who knows what fresh hell the homework diary may bring? A request to invade Holland, perhaps, or to construct a particle accelerator from cereal boxes and empty washing up liquid bottles.
1. Another 8 cahiers to be covered in the plastic film of parental punishment. We have run out of plastic film. I am not going near any stationery shops because the last time I tried, the queue stretched right to the back of the shop, filled with furious women searching for cahiers sans marge and farde à glissières and other esoterica. It's a film plastifiant stand-off.
2. A 7 stanza poem about a monster called Arthur for the whole family to learn, which Lashes has drawn as a sort of dumpy purple depressive, like Barney the dinosaur on Mogadon. He got 0/10 for copying the text off the board, which was an excellent start.
"Ses grandes cornes
Ses griffes pointues
Son nez crochu,
Tout lui donne un air morne".
"Do you even know what morne means, Lashes?"
"Well, it's that face you're making right now".
The poem rote learning experience is, I find, greatly enhanced by your children making fun of your accent.
3. A much shorter poem about a pelican with toothache, plainly written by someone on crack.
4. A request to draw an apple, and a rabbit, with a ruler. Why would anyone do that?
5. Request for €42 for textbooks, €15 for Tutankhamen exhibition, advance request for €250 for seaside language gulag in October for Lashes (how do you say 'second stage hypothermia' in Dutch anyway?) and twice €65 for skool dinners, chiz. This week, I note with interest that my children had Satan meatballs. Oh, alright, Seitan. Either way, I think this is culturally insensitive to children of French origin, for whom meat substitutes are indeed the work of the dark lord. Their father is horrified and heading off into the woods to kill a horse for them to gnaw on, I think.
6. Persistent anxiety about the curse of Tutankhamen, prompted by Howard Carter video. Impervious to all arguments about how far Uccle is from the tomb of the boy king.
7. Barrage of "facts" about the Nile crocodile, also gleaned from a video. The staff seem to be easing themselves gently into the school year with lots of videos, and frankly, who can blame them.
"It weighs 50 kilos! Or 500. Or 150. I might have got that wrong, the zeroes".
"I see. Anything else stick with you?"
"It has warm or cold blood".
8. Request to provide 2 swimming hats, a passport photo, three kitchen rolls and a plant pot. No further elucidation forthcoming.
9. Ninety thousand spellings to learn in two languages.
10. Some maths. I just ignore that, especially when it involves the freakish lips. "Yes, that looks right to me. Have you checked it? Good, good".
11. I can now introduce myself to someone in Dutch, and say I am pleased to meet them, but only if their name is "Angelique Dupont". This would be perfect if I only ever met characters from French textbooks.
12. On top of this, Lashes is causing me great mortification by insisting I find him someone to teach him Japanese (for manga watching/reading purposes, obviously, rather than the simple love of learning). You can't imagine what a pushy parent twat you look trying to find a Japanese tutor for your nine year old. Of course, I know that within about a week of me finally finding someone, he will go off the idea, but who wants to be the parent who refuses their child's bright eyed, lisping request to learn a language? He could probably shop me to social services or apply for his emancipation or something.
Ah, modern parenting. Fill in your own anecdotes about a childhood spent sharing one copy of the Sporting Post and a clog between seven in the comments.