Bang Gang(5)By: Jade West
Her cute little freckled face pouted up at me, and I almost let sock-gate slide in her favour. Almost.
Until she said the words. The words.
“Dad would let me wear them! Dad wouldn’t make me wear disgusting boring socks!”
Oh yeah. She just shit right out of luck with that line.
I put on my serious-Mum voice. “Get dressed, Ruby. Black socks. Final answer.” My definitely-need-to-leave-the-house phone alarm started up in my pocket. I pulled out my mobile to shut it up. “And now we’re late. Again. Thanks very much.”
The muffled voice of her elder sibling fog-horned from downstairs. “We’re late! Mum! I’ll miss the bus!”
Tell me something I don’t already know. I stuck my head out onto the landing. “I know, Mia, dearest child of mine! Your sister is just putting her black socks on!”
I stared at Ruby until she sighed. “Fine! I’ll wear boring-smoring socks to school!”
Praise the fucking Lord.
Monday morning is my morning. You wouldn’t think it, not pre-nine a.m. while chaos reigns all around me. Not with two girls to get ready for school, suddenly remembering the homework they swore blind they didn’t have over the weekend, and the sports shorts that they really, really need that afternoon but forgot to put in the laundry basket. You wouldn’t think it was my morning as the cat tries to trip me up while I’m juggling breakfast plates, and Nanna is reminding me for the hundredth time to pick up her pills from the chemist, like I’ve done every single Monday in the past seven years we’ve been living with her.
You wouldn’t think Monday morning belonged to me at all.
But it does.
It’s my one single weekday morning without both work and kids, and I make the most of it. Or I try.
Ladies who lunch.
Only it’s ladies who grab coffee down the local coffee shop. We are always well done by lunch.
I really needed it today. A couple of hours of just being me. Not Mum-Jodie, or Jodie-from-the-cafe, or Granddaughter-cum-Carer-Jodie, or Trent’s-ex-Jodie. Just Jodie.
I could’ve air punched when I saw a cluster of kids still standing at the bus stop. I leaned across to kiss Mia as she gathered up her school bag, but she didn’t smile. A few weeks into high school and it was still a tough routine to get accustomed to, I guess. She’d hardly say a peep about it without prompting.
“You sure you’re alright? Got everything?” I asked.
She nodded. “Yeah. I’m good.”
“Ok, good. Have fun, poppet, see you later.”
I waved her off, beeped the horn and I finally got a lacklustre smile.
“I never want to go to high school,” Ruby announced from the backseat. “High school stinks.”
“How do you know?” I met her eyes in the rearview before I pulled away. “You might love high school.”
My hackles prickled, mother-senses on high alert. “Mia does.”
She shook her head. “Mia hates high school. She said so.”
Ruby nodded emphatically. Then she pointed back through the window. “That kid with the glasses, Tyler Dean, he’s mean to her.”
“Mean to her?”
“Yeah, calls her Mia-stink-a-lot. Get it? Me A Stink A Lot.” She sighed. “Other names, too. Names I’m not allowed to say.”
“She told you this?”
Ruby pulled a face. “No! She never tells me anything! She told Daisy on Skype. I heard.”
I drove down the hill and indicated into Pontrilas Primary School, pulling onto the verge since there were no spaces left. “How about you have a little think about what else you know, hey? You can tell me later.”
“And be a snitch?”
I opened her car door, grabbed her sports kit. “And be someone who answers her mum when she’s asked a question. That’s not snitching, Ruby.”
She shrugged. “Yeah, ok.”
We trudged to the playground, and my curly-haired bundle of backchat was off like a shot to find her friends. I had to practically chase her to hand over her sports bag. I took my regular position at the leafy tree, with a big-arsed smile plastered on my face and sweet little waves for the other village mums. At least I’d successfully transitioned from PJs in time for the school run today, and you could hardly even see the butter smear on my top from breakfast. Adulting win.