Friday 24th September

Annabelle is off school sick today which is highly inconvenient as I had made plans to pace anxiously around the house in preparation for my induction day tomorrow.

Fortunately she was only suffering from one of those odd 45 minute bugs that kids are so susceptible to and despite threatening her with a late arrival at school if she didn’t have the decency to lie down and at least pretend to be ill, I didn’t force the issue.

The reason that she wasn’t frog-marched directly into the consequences of her actions is because, I am compelled to admit, I’m a snivelling coward.

I didn’t want to have to stand in the school office under the stern gaze of the terrifying authoritarians that comprise the teaching faculty at Annabelle’s primary school and admit that this delightful little dot of a girl, currently to be seen clutching her bumble bee lunch pack, had managed to cunningly and with malice of forethought managed to scam me, once again, into believing the swine flu had got her.

In all honesty, a great deal of effort on my part goes into avoiding the school premises like the plague. This is not solely because of a healthy fear of the Soccer-Marms whom I have learned to my cost, are like the sun. Never look directly at them or you’ll spend the rest of the term beating them and their cookie baking counterparts off with a cricket bat.

My evasiveness is primarily due to the fact that my kids are the undisputed world leaders in the art of making a complete show of me.

Take for example the time, a couple of months ago, when Annabelle discovered the joys of self inflicted love-bites. She came down dressed for school one morning with her arms covered in purple bruises. Naturally a bit concerned, I told her not to do it again and to keep her cardigan on. When I collected her she told me not to worry, it was all fine as she had told Mr Spencer that (and I quote) ‘I can’t take my cardigan off because Mummy said if you see the bruises that she didn’t give me you’ll call the social’. She went on to add helpfully that Mr Spencer was really nice, took her to his office and gave her a biscuit and some juice while they had ‘a bit of a chat’.

Then there was the time she told her little friend Ellie’s Mum that Ellie couldn’t come round after school for tea because (again I quote) ‘Mummy said our house is starting to look like a friggin’ crack den’.

On one occasion in the summer I foolishly allowed her to have a little boy called Samuel round to play in the back garden. I heard her telling him to be careful where he walked because ‘Mummy spends her whole life cleaning up fucking dog shit’.

I am afraid that bitter experience has taught me to keep as far away from anywhere that my kids habitually frequent as is operationally possible.

As parents, I think that these are wise words for us all.

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