I’ve been talking about how tired I feel lately, just from being a mom and trying to get everything done with the kids. Not new, or original material – I realize. Women worldwide complain about fatigue every chance they get. Forget horse betting, I wanna be in a room full of moms and put money on who is legit the most exhausted. I’ve been struggling to settle lately. Well, since we moved to the school district, and the boys started attending a real-real school. Friends warned me about it – to enjoy the playschool days because things get very real in big school. I laughed them off. “I’ll show YOU” I told myself. “I’ll show those silly moms who obviously don’t know me or my children. We’ll be just fine!”
And here I am on the edge of sanity at least once a week. Sometimes I cry for just no reason. I cried in Coyote Ugly the other night. I mean what is that? People sent me that video of the guy documenting his dead dog’s life and I got back in bed, unable to face my life that morning. And you know, when you have a kid, people are like “Wow kids are such a big responsibility” and I always thought that was a bit of a sham. Feed them 3 – 5 times a day, make sure they bath now and then and put their shoes on the right way around. They pretty much raise themselves, if we’re being honest. All they want to do is play and cuddle and climb things and listen to stories. Not much to it.
And then Noah got a homework book. Firstly, I couldn’t even cover the darn thing. I had a friend over and watched her do it while I sipped wine and took notes. We always used those ‘already folded’ book sleeves, but I couldn’t find any at the shops. She let me write the name on the label and everything. I remember the first time I got a notice from the school and I thought “lol they obviously don’t know me. This form will sit in my cubby hole for 3 months and eventually be used to mop up dog vomit or similar.” I try be a good school mom. I want Noah to be that kid with the melrose cheesie and juice box and apple slices and triangle cut sandwiches in his lunchbox. Crusts removed. Eventually I realized that I really should read the notifications and it started pretty slow. One or two here. “Theme in class this week is The Ocean” seems legit. Kids should know about the ocean. Fish and stuff. I imagined they had a poster up in class somewhere, nice pictures of dolphins and so forth. Kids love dolphins. Like 2 days later: “Children are going on an outing via train to the actual ocean to swim and discover and learn. We need help with lifts. Pack a snack and a towel and plastic packet for wet clothes and any medication and sunblock and this is all the paperwork. Sign this form if your child is attending. This one for indemnity and sign this form if you will transport a child to the station. Sign this form if you will be attending the field trip with your child personally or alternatively, sign this form if you’re a kak mom. And also send money for train.”
He’s in a top-notch school. Really, the best. They go ALL out and I love them for it. They go a lot further than any school I ever went to. That whole week at school, they had talks and visitors and one day when I fetched Noah he was like “Come check the octopus.” Yes. An octopus. It was in the school fridge and very much dead, but they’d sourced it somehow. I think the first time I saw an octopus was at the aquarium like, last year. Then the theme was “pets” and I figured maybe the teacher would bring her hamster to school one day. They had a full on dog show on the school field. And an educational talk from trainers and breeders and a vet, I think. Every day there were different animals at school, and one day I even took old Buttons in and let the kids pet him all day. In my old school, I imagine it went “Who can name pets” and some kids went “goldfish” “puppy” “budgie!” and that concluded the pet theme for the week.
Noah has a lot of things that he has to remember and of course he can’t remember all of it, because he is 6 and still little. Every day he has to remember his bag, a jacket, hat, umbrella (lately) and his homework book. His lunch, his juice box and a fruit. The kids all hand in a fruit at school, then they all share. It’s great! When he gets to class he needs to register, hand in his fruit, hand in his homework book and note his ‘mood of the day’ by putting his name peg next to the emoticon he’s feeling… like sad, happy, angry, sick etc. On certain days he also has to remember his swimming costume, plastic bag, cap, towel and spare clothes. Other days his soccer kit. Other days his library bag. On top of that, he also has to remember something or other that the homework book had notified us of, like a R10 for a fundraiser or raffle sheets or a cake sale or something.
By Noah I mean me. I have to remember this stuff. Me. And HE IS ONLY IN GRADE R. He doesn’t even have homework or tests or projects or real sports yet. He doesn’t even have subjects or school books. Or a pencil bag. Or a uniform! Then Ben will enter grade R next year and Noah will move on and who knows what will become of this family. You’d hope that the kids would help along, but the boys are getting to that ‘testing’ age. I have GOOD kids, but Noah can be stubborn like a donkey on a hot day. This one day, I’d packed him left over spaghetti for lunch. He is going through a phase where he does not want to eat spaghetti. In his defense, this has been going on for about two to three years but I can’t eliminate spaghetti from the family diet because it is cheap and quick to cook. He already won’t eat meat so the options you understand are quite limited. We argued all the way to school about the spaghetti and what I didn’t see was him taking his lunch box out of his bag and leaving it on the backseat. Off I go on my day of meetings, workshops and errands.
At 10:15 I got a call from the school. “You have not packed food for your child.” This is a school that I’ve been trying to impress for years with flowers, emails, begging, stalking, volunteering at sports days and borderline bribing to get my child in to the school at all. We moved house, moved Ben’s school, moved jobs and tried to impress these people for almost two years. “No, I’m very sure that I did pack him a lunch.” “No ma’am he says there’s no lunchbox in his bag. All the other children are eating right now and he doesn’t have any food.” It took me about 7 minutes to slap a sandwich together and drive it to his class, furious but also terrified that I was somehow in trouble. Heaven forbid the other moms hear of this, I thought. Bet the PTA has hidden cameras all over that place. I mean, how terrifying are the other moms? I’m sure they’re quite nice and kind, if you ever make eye contact with them. When I walk in and out, I imagine them thinking “There goes that mom that wears her gym kit every day and never goes to gym. Or showers.”
It’s taking a lot of adjusting. And I do feel pretty overwhelmed. I’m really enjoying Ben’s last year of ‘pretend’ school. Every now and then he brings art or a cupcake home and we’re like “how sweet” and that’s about all there is to it. This Friday Noah has to have a costume for dress-up, and I saw three more notices in his homework book that I haven’t the courage to look at right now. I’m so excited for him. He loves his school and he’s learning so much. He gets excited about every single brand new day and it makes it all so worth it!