Let me start by telling you that we live about a ten minute walk from Little Girl’s school. Fifteen if you occasionally drift off into a daydream and walk most of it at a dawdle without even noticing.
Erm, that’s me. Not the kids.
But overall, it’s a pretty quick walk. So, I frequently ask myself, why does it take us about three times as long to walk home?
There’s a simple answer to that one.
She is the ultimate expert in time fuckery. If it is possible to do something in a short time, you can trust Little Girl to drag it out as much as she can. Over a whole afternoon, preferably.
As you can imagine, it gets a little tiresome.
Although, as I have learned from experience, not as tiresome as the effect of trying to speed her up. I’m talking an epic floor-lying, snot-streaming, leg-kicking meltdown.
I’ll stick with the dawdling, thanks.
Here are a few of the most common reasons why we take aaaages to get home from preschool.
1. “I Found A Leaf!”
You all know the girls love collecting crap off the floor to bring home. Little Girl is the champion of crap collection. Not a trip can go by without her grabbing a fistful of stones, leaves or twigs.
I’ve managed to steer her away from the dog shit, thus far.
It’s not as simple as just finding a leaf or stone and picking it up, though. Duh, obviously! No, first it must be examined closely. God knows what for. Pestilence? Bugs? Maybe, horrors of horrors, spider webs?
Who knows. But it is essential that she looks at it for at least a minute, without touching it. While I stand next to her like a lemon, freezing, bored and probably desperate for the loo.
Only after the examination is over will Little Girl deign to pick it up. If it has the audacity to be wet (which, of course, she didn’t notice while freaking staring at it), then it must immediately be discarded. She will spend an age wiping her hands on her coat and grunting disgustedly.
If it’s dry, then she will march off, proudly clutching it between her thumb and forefinger.
Yes, between her thumb and forefinger.
This is one thing that really hacks me off. She only does it with leaves. You know, the thing most likely to be blown out of her hand by the wind? No matter how many times I tell her to hold onto it tightly, she persists in using this lackadaisical method.
And guess what happens.
I’ll give you a clue. Whooooosh!
If you think that her reaction is to brush it off and go and look for another, then it’s clear you haven’t exactly been paying attention.
Shame on you.
Clearly, the only appropriate response is to sob, snivel and howl for the loss of your chlorophyll-loving friend.
All the way home.
2. The Lunch Debate
Little Girl does half days at preschool. This means that she is always home in time for lunch.
Little Girl asks for the same meal for lunch almost every day. But that doesn’t stop her from creating a massive drama about it far more regularly than is reasonable.
It’s normal three year old behaviour. She is exerting her authority, and learning about making choices and being independent. I know that.
Doesn’t stop it from being flipping annoying, though.
Here’s a usual exchange:
Me: “Shall we go home and have some nice lunch?”
Me: “Would you like a sandwich?”
Me: “What would you like instead, then?”
I have quickly learned not to discuss lunch with her. I find it much easier to just make what I know she wants and stick it in front of her when we get home.
Just like her mother, she is noticeably more reasonable after food.
But it doesn’t stop her from sabotaging me. She’s crafty, this kid.
LG, in a cheery voice: “I’m hungry.”
Me, in an equally cheery voice: “Are you? Well that’s good, because we’re going to have lunch when we get home.”
LG: “Nooooooo! I’m not hungryyyyyyy! Aaaarrrrrghhh!!!!”
3. “I Hurt My Knee!”
I see you judging me now. How could a loving mother complain about being slowed down by her kid hurting herself?
Except that isn’t really how it goes down. So chill.
If Little Girl falls over (and she does. Spectacularly), of course I go to her and comfort her, and all that nurturing shit. Despite the fact that she insists on crying directly into my left ear every freaking time.
That’s love, folks.
See dis? It’s my pain face.
But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about knee injuries that happened in the past.
It could have been at school that morning. It could have been three weeks ago. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she gets the same amount of sympathy as if she had just done it.
Legs must be examined, and kissed better. The story must be told at least eleven times. All while we are standing on the corner of our road, metres away from warmth. And food.
It may not sound that bad but trust me, it gets old fast.
4. “I Want To Go Dat Way.”
There are a couple of different routes that we can take to get home from school. They take about the same time, and frankly I couldn’t give a crap which one we choose.
Little Girl, however, disagrees.
In her opinion, this is a life-or-death situation. Route 1 has more slopes to roll down on her scooter. Route 2 has more snails.
Dat way! No, hang on a sec…
It’s a toughy.
She starts to make up her mind before we are even in sight of the corner where we have to choose. “We go by da ‘tatoes,” she says (her word for the stones she walks on along that way, which do indeed look like potatoes). Then, she shakes her head. “No, we go down da hill.”
I really don’t mind letting her pick which way to go. As I said, it makes no odds to me and if I see an opportunity to avoid Tantrum #372 of the day then I grab it with both hands.
I just wish she’d make up her mind before we’d got halfway down the street.
But I am rarely blessed with luck, or good fortune, so what usually happens is this:
She chooses the way, and off we go. And just as we get too far to turn back, she stops and shrieks, “Noooo! I want to go dat way!”
If the ground is wet, then she’ll throw herself down there. If it’s not, then obviously it’s just worth the effort.
5. “Look, A Plane!”
Since she was small, Little Girl has had a thing about aeroplanes. This doesn’t translate to any other part of her life. She doesn’t have any aeroplane toys. She isn’t particularly interested in reading about them, or watching stuff about them on tv. Only on occasion does she zoom along the street with her arms spread out saying, ” Neeeeeeeowwwwww!”
In fact, her obsession only covers one specific activity.
When an aeroplane flies over our heads, she must come to a complete stop, point upwards and exclaim “Look, a plane!”
And then stand stock-still and stare, until it has disappeared entirely from view. No deviations are allowed. Not even if the street is covered in venomous, malevolent beasts, or bathed in flames.
[insert ominous atmosphere here]
You know, I guess. That theory hasn’t exactly been tested yet.
Until this whole thing started I had no idea how many planes flew over us each day. It’s a popular flight path up there. Which is great.
Sometimes, I’m surprised we get anywhere on time.
6. “I Got Something In My Shoe!”
Or, to give it the correct pronunciation, ‘sumfin.’ Little Girl is a sensitive little soul. She hates the feel of water in her ears, can’t stand loud noises (unless she’s making them) and thinks mushrooms are actually repulsive.
Also, her shoes bug the crap out of her.
I would think it was because she had rubbish shoes, but a) her school shoes were fucking expensive, and b) she does it with every pair of shoes she wears. Wellies, slippers, whatever.
I have noticed that this happens a lot less when the floor is dry. Because that just wouldn’t be disruptive enough now, would it?
So she’ll be walking along, or skipping or pretending to ice skate (because why walk when you can attempt the physically impossible?). Then she’ll stop, grimace and hold the offending foot up in the air.
“I got sumfin in my shoe,” she says. And then we have to go through the tired old routine of removing said shoe while she balances in the most ineffective way ever. Translation: her sock gets all covered in rain and shit.
And what do you think I find in her shoe?
Nothing. Nothing at all. Ever.
On the shoe goes again, and we continue on our walk. For, oh… about 17 steps. “I got sumfin in my shoe again.”
Here we go.
Believe me, I’ve tried to brush it off and distract her. But have you ever tried to get animal hair off a black cardigan? That’s how successful brushing something off is with Little Girl.
As always in life, sometimes I am thrown a curveball. And yesterday was one of these times. Yesterday, she did none of the above things. In fact, we got home in record time.
Contrary to popular belief, this was not a good thing.
You see, Little Girl got a leetle bit carried away on her scooter. I’m no good at gauging distances, but I’d estimate that she was about shiiiiiiit! metres away from me.
I’ve been letting her get a little bit ahead of me, before she has been quite good at stopping when I called. So I assumed she would do the same yesterday.
Because I’m fucking stupid.
She didn’t stop.
In fact, she sped straight round the corner and out of sight. Can you guess how elegant I looked, running full pelt behind her with a sleeping-but-not-for-long baby wrapped to my back?
Do I even need to answer that?
Thanks to a crisis of confidence once I was out of sight, she had stopped. And we had a little chat once we got home. She won’t be doing that again.
Ha, who am I kidding? She’ll probably do it again tomorrow. I’ll just make sure I’m close enough to catch her next time.
At least the journey home will be quick.