I do rather feel that I have maligned the poor woman, actually. She was talking to a crowd, not just to me. Anyway, here I am with a proper keyboard, and so you shall have your story.
Some weeks ago, Elder Girl started school. As learning curves go, it’s been a steep one; new friends to make, rules to follow, homework every night and plenty of frustrated tears. Fortunately, that’s just been me; she’s quite a resilient child, all things considered.
Anyway, along with the myriad other demands on my time made by the school, almost all of which I cannot meet because I have this pesky little thing called a job, was the invitation to a fundraising dance in the evening. So we frocked up, arranged a table with some friends, and off we went. For some reason, this sort of thing always fills me with anxiety – not the social aspect, because I’m quite the extrovert, but…I don’t know, really. It’s loud. It’s crowded. I worry about getting a park, getting a table, making sure everyone is having fun, all of that. Crowds and noise are my major stressors in life, and by major I do mean major.
But it’s alright, because I have LH coming, and also a friend with her child, and that friend’s parents, and my mother, so it’s a nice crowd. Right up until the point where Friend develops tonsillitis, her parents decide not to come, and she begs me to look after her child as well as my own. So there I am, now with three small children, a mother with mobility issues, and LH who is coming later.
Three small children at an enclosed dance with many, many adults does not sound difficult. It should not be difficult! But this is what happens:
Small Child One: I’m just going to go over there to say hello to my friend Mary, I will stay in sight. Child decamps to north-west corner of dark, noisy hall.
Small Child Two: I’m hungry. Can I have a coin for the cake stall? Child decamps to south-east corner of dark, noisy hall, and stands in long queue. By standing right in the middle of the hall, ignoring the fact that various tweens are trying out their frankly embarrassing dance moves all around me, I can just about keep an eye on both small children whilst also indulging Small Child Three (Toddler Edition) in her desire to twirl until she gets dizzy and falls over approximately eleventy billion times. And then this happens:
Small Child Three (Toddler Edition): I need a wee.
So I’m a little tense, and muttering under my breath a bit about certain Husbands Who Oh So Conveniently Have To Work Late, and I don’t know anyone else well enough to grab them and say can you keep an eye on [indicating small children in various corners] them, please? And I’ve already lost my seat and since there is no way I can shepherd three small children and queue for food, I’ve not eaten dinner. And everywhere, everywhere I look there are laughing adults carrying glasses of wine. Mothers of small children. Fathers at the end of a long work week. Doting grandparents. Teachers. All of them with a glass of wine. And of course it’s a volunteer-run event with an amateur bar, so no of course they don’t have San Pellegrino or cranberry soda. They have tap water, and they have Fanta, and they have wine and they have cider and they have beer and they have wine and there is wine.
And the music stops for a moment, so that the organisers can welcome everybody and urge them to take part in the fundraising activities. Buy a raffle ticket, they shout merrily. Try the sideshows! Everyone a winner. Thanks to our sponsors, Gourmet Wine Company and
Artisan Beer Makers! Do you have a glass of wine in your hand, they ask rhetorically? Why not? Go and get yourself a glass of wine! Or why not try our delicious crisp cider, locally made. Remember, it’s for your child’s school! I want to see everyone up at that bar, buying a drink, and then we’ll have an adults dance!
I am, I thought calmly, possibly in sobriety hell. It is dark. It is so loud that all the small children bellowing demands at me cannot be heard properly; you’d think this would be an advantage, but in fact what it means is that I’m in danger of proffering a well-meaning cuddle just as their words coalesce into a grim I’m going to be sick. My back hurts from trying to dance with someone who comes up to my navel. I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, THIS SUCKS.
And in my head I had the biggest, stompiest tantrum in the world, and it went like this:
I HATE THIS THIS SUCKS I WANT TO GO HOME. I WANT TO GO HOME AND PUT THE CHILDREN TO BED BECAUSE I HATE THE CHILDREN AND I WANT TO IGNORE MY HUSBAND BECAUSE I HATE MY HUSBAND BECAUSE I HATE EVERYBODY FOREVER AND I JUST WANT TO READ MY NEW BOOK AND DRINK A VAST GLASS OF ARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT PROBABLY COCOA OR SOMETHING I DON’T EVEN CARE BECAUSE I WILL BE READING MY BOOK IN MY COMFY STRETCHY PANTS ON MY OWN.
And then, ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what I did. And it was fine.