I asked “Where’s mine?”

Today I attended the end-of-term presentation put on by the gymnastics group that my two eldest children attend every Monday morning. Having been to one of these before, I already kind of knew that it’s something you go to purely for the sake of the happiness of your children; in terms of showcasing the ‘skills’ they’ve supposedly ‘acquired’ over the course of the term, well, let’s just say that I’ve seen them perform more interesting manoeuvres just walking around the supermarket.

Anyway, they enjoy it and there is something in me – I think it’s the bit that is often seen enthusiastically waving an Australian flag – that rejoices in the fact of them starting the week at 8am with an hour of physical activity, however tame that might be.

But their instructor, oh lordy. Whatever ‘skills’ she has ‘acquired’ in the course of her gymnastics career, banter and personableness are not among them. Seriously. Personality of a dial tone, and a voice like an emery board on a garden paving stone.

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After the demonstration (and much enthusiastic clapping) the children were given their medals and certificates. Next, the announcement that there was to be an extra certificate handed out this term: for children who had achieved 100% attendance. Which mine had, and so they were duly called up.

After photos and whatnot, I wandered over to the coach. She regarded my approach warily; last time we spoke, it was because I was insisting that she re-issue their certificates as she’d mis-spelled their surname. She also knows that I’m friends with another parent, a dad, who’s taken her to task about a non-refundable missed (missed by her, not by the child) lesson.

“So that was fun!” I said brightly. “But, um, the certificates … where’s mine?”

Blank look.

“The certificates? For 100% attendance?” I persisted. “Y’know, because like, who’s the one who’s managed to get them here every week? On a Monday? For 8am?”

I’m joking, of course I am. But her complete failure to get it just makes me perverse. She’s still gawping at me.

“Oh! No certificate! I see,” I say. “So – a discount on next term’s fees then, is that it?”

She actually manages to burble something at this point, a fact that is hardly surprising given her refusal to refund my friend the lesson that she’d cancelled.

Finally I laugh. “I’m joking,” I say. “Goodness! Of course I’m joking!”

She’s off the hook, she relaxes, and says something – I could be wrong, because my ears instinctively turn off when confronted with a displeasing voice – about how parents should get certificates ha ha something. I don’t know, something like that. All I know – and I do know that one shouldn’t take pleasure in another’s discomfiture, so shame on me etc etc – but all I know is that, for the rest of the day, whenever I thought of her expressionless, I-totally-don’t-get-your-humour face, it made me chortle.

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their reports were so good

Am I allowed a moment of not-so-quiet maternal pride?

My first and second-born brought their school reports home today.

They were both bloody excellent. Lots of fantastic comments about their strengths and, just as importantly, about their efforts to succeed in areas where they’re not such naturals. Loads of social feedback too, mainly about the fact that they’re both considerate, kind, funny and engaging, with a strong sense of fairness and team-play.

I’m so proud of both of them. Is it okay to say that?

It wasn’t all welling up with tears and swelling up with pride though. There was a laugh to be had; well a quiet smile anyway. On the section of the reports where they’re able to write for themselves what they feel their strengths and favourite things are, there’s a section asking them to say what they feel they’d like to get better at. Reading? Writing? Maths? or Other?

Both of them marked ‘Other’. My son, it seems, would like to get better at football. Fair enough. Lord knows, there’s money enough in it. And I always had a yen to call him Pelé.

My daughter, however, who carries her digital skipping rope with her everywhere, would like to get better at….skipping. Seems that the Skip2Bfit day at school had quite some impact. But once I’d recovered from my quiet chortle, I was rather relieved! I feared I’d put her off skipping for life when I was getting back in to shape after the birth of my third child: without the ability to get out of the house for decent running sessions, I did a lot of Tabata and HIT skipping in the presence of the children. There may have been an instance or two where one of them came too close to me, and consequently to the wildly rotating rope. Hey, I was a house-bound woman on a weight-loss mission. It wasn’t intentional. Honest!

Anyway. Reports. Twirly Toes P and C-Meister-C: I am massively proud of both of you.

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I bought a veg bag

It was suggested, recently, that I get involved with the PTA at school, and I was pretty open to the idea. I like organising stuff and am the type of annoying person who looks on admiringly at things whilst mentally totting up the ways in which I’d have done it differently. It was also going to be a chance to work with a friend of mine who is brilliant at all things fun, themed and innovative; having been to a few parties at her house and been privy to her boundless energy for pretty much everything, I knew she’d be great to team up with.

But eventually I thought better of the whole endeavour. I hate to commit to things and then not be able to deliver, and the amount of work put in by the current PTA team was awe-inspiring and off-putting in almost equal measures. With three children at the young-ish end of the scale, a husband whose work hours are erratic and a freelancing job to factor in to the mix, I had visions of not being on hand to set up the very tombolas and cake stalls that I’d helped to organise- and the thought did not thrill me at all.

So I pulled out of the running and felt relieved, yes, but also a bit crap about ‘not doing my bit.’

Shameful that it has taken me nearly two years and pulling out of a potential PTA role to get in on the Abel & Cole fundraising scheme, but better late than never. I felt properly good this afternoon, collecting my veg bag, from which 25% of the profits will go to the school. I’m looking forward, too, to stretching my cooking muscles to make use of what we actually have, rather than buying the same stuff week after week (regardless of provenance),  just because it fits in with an already-well-established dinner repertoire.

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I’m not entirely sure that I’ll sell the kids on the leeks but hey, it’s not all about them is it? And since the boys hate fish anyway, well, I’m off to rustle up a Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad – served up with the glow of parental participation on the side. Yummers!

Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad from british-leeks.co.uk

Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad from british-leeks.co.uk