I know that it’s not the law to fill every precious second of the school holidays with relentless fun, but my current job/training involves so much multi-skilling that I’ve forgotten how to relax and just do nothing. There’s also the fact that the average four-year-old needs more entertainment than can be provided in a small house for more than a few hours at a time. For a start, George doesn’t do creative activities out of choice. I did suggest that he made a Victorian paper doll, an activity on offer at Milestones, but he informed me that was a “school thing”, and he didn’t want to do it during half term. Anyway, it’s my holiday too, and even if I’m spoiling George with too many days out, I want to have fun as well.
The week’s reminded me why I don’t mind being a working mum. Going to work all day is so much less tiring than staying a home with a young person. It’s true that the housework is still undone when I get home in the evenings, but I’ve got the solution for that. I just don’t do it. Ever. The dust will still be there when I finish my training in autumn 2008 and I can hopefully work part-time again. Some of my fellow trainees say that the problem with study days is that they’re distracted by all the things which need doing around the house. For me, it’s the other way round. I only have to plug in the vacuum cleaner for an essay idea to pop into my head, and the housework is abandoned for the computer once again.
The other reason I’d be a rubbish full-time mum is that I’m no good at making small talk with other mums at the school gate. I really struggle to recognise faces (I think there’s a medical name for this, but I’ll just call it “laziness”). So there’s all these mums and all these kids, and I have no idea which one belongs to whom, or who is in George’s class. I even have a problem recognising the kids and mums who came to George’s birthday party. It’s not just a school thing (although how you’re meant to process any sort of face-recognition information or make conversation at 8.50am is beyond me). It hasn’t been unknown for me to walk past my own husband in the street. And when George brought home him class photo, it took two attempts to pick him out.
Luckily it’s never caused me a problem at work because I can usually link someone to the job they do, and where they sit. Although there is a team on my floor who hotdesk. That left me floundering for weeks. Obviously remembering names help, although I’m not great at that, either, which is why I rarely use them when talking to people. I know this is meant to give the appearance of being cold, but I make up for it by smiling a lot. And it’s better than calling someone by the wrong name (although this is something I grew up with: my mum used to regularly call me by the name of my sister, dad, our four cats and the dog before hitting on the right one). *
The only time I find the face-recognition thing a real problem is when I bump into someone I used to know from school (I grew up round here, so this happens quite often). While I don’t have a clue who they are, they always seem to recognise me. While I would like to think this is all because they are devoted readers of my blog, I’ve been told that it’s actually because I haven’t changed a jot since primary school. I guess I should take that as a compliment, but it's probably because I'm still a (speccy four-eyes).
* 2012 update... and this is why Sophie, my daughter, is named after Sophie, the family dog.
- First published on www.newburytoday.co.uk in 2007