Last night I stood in a freezing corridor alongside seven other mums and one dad, wedged between a bag of gently reeking ballet shoes and a formica table that shaved slivers of skin from my hands. I am paying just under £150 a year for this. We parents exchange knowing glances and war-stories of what we did when the Nursery Teddy came to visit, like the battle hardened veterans that we are. Some of the mums have babies strapped to them like dynamite on an innocent hostage in an action film. I feel their pain. I would rather chew my own ears off than return to the days of lugging a tired baby around like an angry bumbag, whilst my eldest child refused to participate in whatever activity I'd decided would make him a more rounded and superior being that week. The lesson with the second one is, only sign them up if they're willing to beg for it. OK, so my toddler is in the other room doing her first, longed-for ballet lesson and is effervescent with joy, it is shining out of her like sunshine on a frozen lake but this is about me dammit. I am hating every second of this.
When the lesson is finished I pour the three year old into her onesie (how the hell did anyone get anything done with kids before the advent of the onesie?) and whizz home. Then comes the obligatory threatening of said three year old whose head is still too full of sugar-plum fairies and happy/sad feet to eat her fucking pasta. We compromise on 3 pieces of pasta and 2 biscuits. Sigh. Then it's out the door again to relieve the ever so lovely, but by this time slightly frazzled, after-school-club teachers of the six year old. There is not enough money in the world to induce me to spend my afternoons with 40-50 kids in a hut for 2 1/2 hours after their full day at school. Ladies, I salute you.
I then pay another £150 a year to entertain the by now exhausted and recalcitrant toddler whilst the older one does Beavers (fnar fnar - that name is never not funny, even in these circumstances). My options for said entertainment are yet another freezing hallway, a freezing field or a pub that looks on children relatively tolerantly during the day, but it's dark outside for god's sake; real actual human people may want to have a drink there by this time and I don't want to be that parent - at least not if I'm sober. We go back to the car and listen to the Frozen soundtrack for the billionth time.
And so it goes; ballet, drama, swimming, martial arts, music, singing, brownies, coding club, magic circle, fire-eating, taxidermy, paragliding, jousting, cage-fighting- whatever the latest bullshit hassle we put ourselves through to give our kids every opportunity to become exceptional rounded human beings. I decide to put my foot down. No more. They don't need it. Enough.
There was no #wineoclockblues last night. Wine was indeed had last night; to fend of the pressure headache, to prevent me screeching at my husband and to drown the total what-the-fuckeriness of it all. I lay on the sofa, and thought 'Am I fucking insane? Am I really paying the better part of £600 a year for this experience, to stand in corridors and fight with toddlers and unravel slowly as the week goes on?'
The next morning, eyes still heavy with sleep the three year old wanders in & starts the day with 'Mum, I love ballet almost as much as I love you.' The six year old pops his head round the door and says 'I love Beavers, mum.' I snigger and know we'll be going back and it will be worth it.